Every sports writer knows this race.
You’ve heard a terrific story — or several of ’em — from many moons ago and you rush to double-check the details. Please be accurate. Please be accurate.
That was 40 years ago already, and some memories tend to fade with time, but Lanny’s recollections from that special season are as sharp as an elbow from Gordie Howe. My follow-up research confirmed it.
Lanny tells a terrific tale about his final contest before the 1983 NHL All-Star Game. He was playing scared that night, terrified the team would find out he was up way too late because he was filming a muffler commercial. Sleep deprivation wasn’t an issue as he potted a hat trick against the Pittsburgh Penguins, temporarily moving ahead of provincial nemesis Wayne Gretzky on the league-wide goal-scoring charts. And yeah, that’s precisely how it unfolded.
Lanny had me laughing out loud as he recalled an earful from Buffalo Sabres netminder Bob Sauve, who was between the pipes for two of his milestone markers. Sauve wasn’t especially complimentary after the Flames’ sharpshooter sniped his 60th of that season. McDonald shared his somewhat salty message.
He remembers that when he donned his gear, it was always left then right — left skate first, left shin pad first, left sock before the right one. He can tell you his regular route from his home just west of city limits to the old Stampede Corral. Now, I’m thinking that I should have followed up after one of his teammates, a regular guest for pre-game meals, asked: “Did he tell you about the time that we got his kids to draw with crayons on their dining room walls?” That’s gotta be a doozy, too.
The point is, we all have the sharpest memories of some of our most special moments. It’s like Lanny can close his eyes and still see all those pucks finding the back of the net in 1982-83.
I hope you’ll read the completely true — trust me, I double-checked the details — account of the season that McDonald simply couldn’t miss. Thanks to some of the biggest names in Flames lore, from ‘Pep’ to ‘Magic Man’ to ‘Trader Cliff’ for joining me on a stroll down memory lane. This is the longest feature that I’ve ever filed, probably by quintuple, but I didn’t want to leave out any of the good stuff.
Lanny remains a legend in Calgary. What’s cool is the person is even better than the player — and he was a heck of a player. That 66-goal bonanza was some of his best work, and I bet you will enjoy hearing the stories as much as I did.
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