The ’12 Days of Christmas’ is a classic holiday song first published in its current form in 1908. In a nod to the classic carol, join The Hockey Writers as we count down the 12 Days of Hockeymas. Each day, we will provide you with a piece of hockey history as we eagerly await the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.
It’s been 31 years since Lanny McDonald last put on the Flaming ‘C’, but his presence is still felt in both the hockey world and Calgary community today. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Flames fan old or young who’s never heard of Lanny as he has continued his legacy in the Calgary community through public affairs and various charities.
McDonald had a great career with the Flames and continued after retirement with his work in the community on behalf of the organization. Whether you remember McDonald from his time on the ice or his time in the community, the ninth day of Hockeymas brings you a look into his career in Calgary both on and off the ice.
Career With the Flames
McDonald was traded to the Flames during the 1981-82 season – this was the second time that general manager Cliff Fletcher had tried to acquire the right-winger. Fletcher had stated that the team was missing leadership and Lanny was the kind of player he wanted to fill that role. (from ‘Cliff Fletcher’s epic NHL trades belong to another era: The inside stories of 27 years of wheeling and dealing,’ National Post 17/02/2016)
The Flames shipped Bob MacMillan and Don Lever to the Colorado Rockies for McDonald and a draft pick. McDonald would finish the season in Calgary scoring 34 goals and tallying 33 assists in 55 games.
In his first full season with the Flames, McDonald eclipsed his previous career-high of 47 goals when he buried 66 of them in 80 games. He would head to the 1983 All-Star Game that season with 45 goals at the time, one goal ahead of Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky of course went on to win the regular-season scoring title, but McDonald would finish second in the league only five goals behind. It’s still a Flames record today and will likely continue to stand as the record for years to come.
It was McDonald’s final goal in the NHL that would be among the most memorable of his career, and his most famous moment as a Flame. The older generation of Flames fans most likely remember jumping out of their seats after a red moustache came streaking down the right-wing; taking a Joe Nieuwendyk pass and snapping it past Patrick Roy. That night the Flames held on to win McDonald his first Cup in his final game.
Post Career Spent in Calgary
After retiring in 1989, Lanny’s No. 9 was raised to the rafters the very next season as he became the first Flame to have his number retired. McDonald has also been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. McDonald spent nine years on the Hockey Hall of Fame’s selection committee before being appointed the Chairman of the Board.
When McDonald was playing with Toronto he became a big advocate for the Canadian Special Olympics and he continues to this day to be a regular supporter of the charity. McDonald began his work in the Calgary community while playing as he was the first winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy which is awarded to the player who represents leadership and humanitarian efforts.
McDonald was named Vice President of Corporate and Community Affairs with the Flames the year after he had retired from playing and assumed the role for most of the ’90s. McDonald has continued to represent the team at special events like the O.R.G. NHL China Games in 2018 and the 2019 Heritage Classic.
A Leader On and Off the Ice
One could argue that Lanny McDonald is the embodiment of what it means to be a Calgary Flame both on and off the ice. A guy who played the game hard and was successful in captaining the Flames to a Stanley Cup championship. McDonald put the same amount of work ethic into his off-ice activities which have awarded him a continued role with the organization.
The Flames two longest-serving captains, Jarome Iginla and Mark Giordano, may have learned a thing or two from McDonald. Iginla and Giordano have excelled in their playing careers and displayed leadership on the ice, while also having a presence in the Calgary community through charities and public appearances.
Cliff Fletcher was looking for leadership in the ‘80s, but he probably never thought McDonald’s legacy would continue on nearly 40 years later and set the standard for what it means to be captain of the Calgary Flames.