Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lanny McDonald: 3 Autographed Cards

Lanny McDonald was a legend as much for his on-ice play as for his world-class mustache, bushy and flamy-red. The Toronto Maple Leafs made him the 4th overall pick of the 1973 draft, and he arguably had the best NHL career of anyone else chosen that year apart from 1st pick Denis Potvin. Other 1973 draft alumni include Bob Gainey, Blaine Stoughton, André Savard, Dave Lewis and Rick Middleton.

But like many other former Leafs greats of the 70s and 80s, McDonald was mistreated by management - he was traded to the Colorado Rockies just because he was friends with Darryl Sittler, who had refused to waive his no-trade clause, angering GM Punch Imlach. McDonald and Joel Quenneville went to the Rockies for Wilf Paiement and Pat Hickey, prompting Leaf fans to protest outside Maple Leaf Gardens.

McDonald scored 66 goals in 142 games with the Rockies, split in parts of 3 seasons, before being moved to the Calgary Flames. In his first full season with the team in  1982-83, he scored 66 goals - a team record that still stands today. He captained the team for their lone Stanley Cup win in 1989, the only visiting team to ever win the Cup on the Montréal Canadiens' home turf, the Forum. And he did so in McDonald-esque fashion, having been scratched for 3 games, coming back in the decisive game and scoring the goal that would propel the Flames to victory, breaking a 1-1 tie. A world-class moment from a world-class player.

I sent McDonald these three cards and a fan letter - care of the Flames' alumni - on January 31st, 2012 and got them all back signed in blue sharpie on March 29th, 2012. They all show him wearing the Flames' red (away) uniform. The card on the left is from the 1984-85 Topps set (card #26), that I traded 12 Dave Andreychuk cards to get my hands on; the card in the middle is from Topps' 1988-89 O-Pee-Chee set (card #234), which I've had since I was a kid; and the card on the right is from the 1987-88 Topps set (card #20), a card I had the OPC version of as a kid but traded for its Topps equivalent as a teen because, as a Montrealer, American cards were more rare in my neighbourhood. The latter two not only show his wearing the captain's ''C'', but also a patch on the right shoulder commemorating the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

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