Posted By: Michael Cecchin
For many hockey fans, especially those in Toronto and Calgary, the name Lanny McDonald brings to mind a bushy moustache and a hard, persistent work effort. One of the most entertaining Maple Leafs, and a fan favourite throughout the 1970’s, Lanny’s work ethic and passion followed him throughout his 18-year career into the late 1980’s. He scored one of the biggest goals in Maple Leaf History, and the biggest goal of the 1970’s for the franchise, and later co-captained the Flames to their first and only Stanley Cup in 1989. Although the Hall of Fame forward is remembered for his thick red mustache, he is also recognized as a humanitarian for his various charitable efforts throughout the years.
McDonald played seven seasons as a Maple Leaf, becoming a fan favourite amongst Torontonians and without a doubt was an important figure to the Leaf organization. He broke the 90-point plateau on two occasions and passed 80 points four times, while scoring the team’s biggest goal of the decade during the 1978 Stanley Cup Playoffs. McDonald was traded from the Leafs in December of 1979, shocking the city of Toronto and Lanny himself. After a short stay in Colorado, Lanny McDonald found himself back in Canada as he was sent to Calgary where he would play the rest of his career.
Upon McDonald’s arrival in Calgary followed a sense of giving, one, which would have an effect on not only the Flames, but also the community around them. Lanny McDonald bestowed a player-fan bond upon the entire hockey world that many came to idolize.
McDonald’s work towards charitable efforts began during the 1974 Special Olympics Summer Games when he was asked by the Maple Leafs to represent the organization during that year’s competition. Lanny’s willingness and co-operation spawned the beginning of a long partnership between McDonald and the Special Olympics. The Hanna, Alberta native has since continued to support the Special Olympics through participation and campaign awareness including various fundraising efforts. He was the 1986 Special Olympics Summer Games honourary coach in Calgary, and coached that year’s Canadian floor hockey team.
Lanny’s ability to connect with fans and teammates reflected his importance to those he helped. His involvement with the 1986 Special Olympics and his work with the Alberta Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals earned him the first ever Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award from the Flames for his charitable efforts. One year later his work was recognized by the NHL as the league deemed him the inaugural recipient of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1988. His 1987 autobiography entitled Lanny was a Canadian-Best Seller and sold 10,000 copies within its first few months of publication, leading his publisher Mcgraw-Hill to make a $10,000 donation to the Special Olympics.
In 1989, Lanny McDonald officially retired from the NHL after capturing his first ever Stanley Cup with the Flames that spring. His time as a player may have come to an end, but his commitment to charity and care for others continues and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Through events such as Community Roasts, Lanny assists in benefiting three worthy causes. The Flames Foundation for Life; Special Olympics; and Soldier On Fund; all benefit from the charitable efforts put forth by Lanny McDonald and the Calgary Flames. From children’s education and recreation; to sport training and competition for those with mental disabilities; and the financial and social stability of wounded or ill Canadian soldiers; all aspects of society are important and worthy of the support.
Lanny McDonald has worked first hand to change the lives of so many aspiring athletic hopefuls, while raising thousands of dollars for numerous causes. He has shown loyalty and commitment for a cause in which he believes in and for that reason alone he is a hero amongst legends.