By Carter Brooks
Photos courtesy of Sport Manitoba and the Hockey Hall of Fame
Late Tuesday evening Winnipeg’s Ab McDonald passed away at the age of 82. The former captain of the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets was surrounded by family and friends and passed peacefully. Ab will be missed by Pat – his wife of over 60 years -, his children Cindy, David, Lori, Steven and Kristina, his seven grandchildren and his one great grandchild.
McDonald burst onto the NHL scene in the late 1950s, making a significant mark with the Montreal Canadiens, before moving on to the Chicago Blackhawks from 1960-64. After three consecutive Stanley Cup victories in 1958, ’59 and ’60, McDonald continued his torrid playoff success with the Hawks, winning the Cup once again in ’61 alongside Stan Mikita and Kenny Wharram, playing on Chicago’s ‘Scooter Line’.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound left winger then continued his trip through the NHL’s Original Six teams making stops in Boston and Detroit before a brief stint in Pittsburgh and another stop with the expansion St. Louis Blues. However, it was after his NHL career that McDonald made the greatest impact on his hometown of Winnipeg.
At the age of 37, McDonald joined the World Hockey Association’s Winnipeg Jets, serving as the team’s first captain. The Winnipegger scored the first ever goal by a Jet, going on to register 17 markers for Winnipeg to go alongside 41 points in his first WHA season. McDonald also played in the 1973-74 season for Winnipeg, adding another 12 goals and 29 points to his impressive resume, all while staying exceptionally active within his local community, often making appearances at local bars and charity golf tournaments.
The 14-year NHL veteran finished his hockey playing career in Winnipeg following the 1973-74 season, totalling 182 goals, 430 points and 200 penalty minutes in 762 career regular season NHL games, to go along with 21 goals and 50 points in 84 postseason contests. Upon retirement, McDonald spent two seasons at the helm of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Portage Terriers.