Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kevin MacDonald

Kevin MacDonald had to fight and fight and fight for just one chance at the NHL. Literally.

MacDonald was a rugged, stay at home defenseman who played 4 seasons (1983-87) with the OHL's Peterborough Petes. Having not been drafted he attended St. Thomas University as a 20 year old and impressed minor league scouts well enough to earn a try out with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. After just one year of schooling Kevin quit school to chase his dream of playing professional hockey.

Kevin was a fringe defenseman at the IHL level but a top pugilist. He racked up penalty minutes like there was no tomorrow! He was a spirited guy who gave it his all on the ice. Unfortunately he didn't have a whole lot to offer other than his physical, bruising play.

His spirited play did not go unnotice. By 1990 the Edmonton Oilers signed Kevin. The Oilers were look for a minor league tough guy and had no plans for Kevin at the big club, so that never worked out. But he continued to scratch and claw and fight his way at the IHL level, never giving up his dream of making it to the NHL.

As the NHL began expanding in the 1990s, Kevin's hopes were renewed that maybe, just maybe, some team would take a chance on him. That chance was finally granted in the form of an early Christmas gift. On December 22, 1993 the Ottawa Senators signed Kevin to a contract for the remainder of the year.

MacDonald was placed in the minors, not surprisingly. He earned 245 PIM in just 40 games with the PEI Senators. The Sens of course were awful that year, and by the end of the year were giving anyone their protected list a look-see. That included Kevin. He was called up late in the year and appeared in his lone NHL game.

Kevin was released at the end of the year and no other NHL team expressed interest. But Kevin wouldn't give up. He returned to the IHL and took his pugilism to a new level. He led the IHL with a career high 390 PIMs. MacDonald would continue to bounce around the minor leagues for the next few years, never earning another shot at the NHL.

Kevin wasn't a very good hockey player to be honest. There's guys in your recreational leagues that are better. But Kevin was one tough SOB who knew that the only way he could make a living as a professional hockey player was to fight. He did just that, and even was rewarded with fulfilling his dream of playing in the NHL, albeit just for one game.


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