Thursday, January 9, 2020

Al MacAdam Autographed Card

Don't make your mind up about Al MacAdam solely on his career regular-season statistics of 240 goals, 351 assists and 591 points in 864 games, because those are skewed by playing four seasons with the lowly California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons franchise and the mid-1980s Vancouver Canucks. He had a solid prime that compares with that of any non-Montréal Canadiens player from the late 70s and early 80s.

He started out playing for the Charlottetown Islanders of the MJAHL - a second-tier Junior League, right below the "Major Junior" leagues of the CHL - where he averaged two points per game and had them on runs to compete for the Centennial Cup, that level's equivalent of the CHL's Memorial Cup, losing in the semifinals in 1969-70 and reaching the Final in 1970-71.

The following season, he joined the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers, where he had 32 goals, 21 assists and 53 points in 36 games, but when the team failed to make it to the postseason, he re-joined the Islanders for yet another Centennial Cup run; despite his 15 goals, 21 assists and 36 points in just 11 games, the team lost in yet another semifinals.

However, in dominating in such fashion, he caught the attention of the Philadelphia Flyers, who drafted him 55th overall in 1972 and had him spend nearly two seasons with their AHL affiliate Richmond Robins; they called him up late in 1973-74 for five regular-season (no points) and one playoff game - the Stanley Cup clincher - before even playing his official rookie season. A proud hard worker who wanted to earn his credit, however, he refused to ever wear his championship ring, feeling he hadn't contributed enough to deserve it.

The Flyers sent him to the Seals during the off-season to acquire Reggie Leach, a move that helped earn them a second consecutive Cup, and one that ensured MacAdam would see regular playing time in the NHL, considering the California team's weak line-up. He made full use of his ice time, producing 18 goals, 25 assists and 43 points in his rookie season and a 32-goal, 31-assist, 63-point season the following year in what was the Seals' final season before being relocated to Cleveland, where he had another 63-point season in 1976-77.

Both 63-seasons had led him to the All-Star Game, and he was named the Barons' captain for the 1977-78 season, and although he finished fourth in team scoring that year, he did so on only 48 points as the struggling franchise was merged with the Minnesota North Stars as both teams were in danger of folding.

Despite appearing in only 69 games (amassing 58 points in the process) in the 1978-79 season, MacAdam forged a bond with linemates Bobby Smith - the eventual Calder Trophy winner - and Steve Payne, who scored a career-high 42 goals in just his second NHL season. The trio would be dominant for the following three seasons during which MacAdam would collect 93 (including a career-high 42 goals himself and a Bill Masterton Trophy), 60 and 61 points, with the first two seasons including deep playoff runs: a Conference Final in 1979-80 (16 points in 15 games) and a Cup Final in 1980-81 (19 points in 19 games).

The entire line also made its way to the 1979 World Championships on Team Canada, although Payne would be replaced by Marcel Dionne half the time. This was MacAdam's second World Championships, as he'd also suited up in the 1977 edition, the first time NHL professionals were allowed to participate in the tournament, following a six-year absence/boycott from the Canadian team.

MacAdam's time in the spotlight ended during the 1982-83 season when rookie Brian Bellows took his place on the North Stars' top line, relegating #25 - a strong two-way player and one of the smartest North American players of the 1970s with Bob Gainey and Jacques Lemaire - to a third-line checking role. The Selke Trophy votes became a yearly occurrence, but his points totals dipped to 33 in 73 games in '82-83 and 35 in 80 games the following season,leading to a trade to the Canucks in exchange for the legendary Harold Snepsts. It was Canucks GM Harry Neale's second attempt at having MacAdam play for him, as he'd invited him to join the OHA's Hamilton Red Wings in 1971-72 when the latter opted to go to university instead.

However, MacAdam never felt accepted by the Canuck fan base who didn't take well to Snepsts' departure, and he retired a year and a half later, 11 games into the Fredericton Express' (AHL) 1985-86 season, where he served a dual player-coach position.

He moved on to coaching full-time later that year, assuming a dual position as St. Thomas University's assistant athletic director and head hockey coach of the Tommies. In that capacity, he was named AUAA Coach of the Year in 1995-96. He accepted a position as head coach of the AHL's St. John's Maple Leafs from 1996-2000, then graduated to the NHL, becoming assistant-coach to Brian Sutter (with legends Denis Savard and Vladislav Tretiak) for the Chicago Blackhawks from 2000-04.

After a short stint with his alma mater University of Prince Edward Island Panthers, he coached the Halifax Mooseheads for a year and a half, leading the 2005-06 team to the second round of the LHJMQ playoffs before taking a break from the hockey life.

He briefly returned to getting paid to watch hockey games as a scout for the Buffalo Sabres from 2011-14, mostly watching Juniors games in the Maritimes and acting as the team's Director of Amateur Scouting for the 2012-13 season.

He sometimes leaves his comfortable life near the sea to participate in trade shows, which is where he signed this card of his for me between 2013 and 2015:
It's card #178 from In The Game's 2004-05 Franchises set (cards 151-300 are from the "U.S. West" sub-set/series), showing him wearing the Barons' red (away) uniform, with the captain's "C" visible. He signed it in thick black sharpie.

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