Year Inducted: 1994
Going from the backyard rinks of St. Raphaels and Green Valley to the major arenas of pro hockey in Canada, the United States and Europe was a long climb for Glengarry native Blair MacDonald, but it was an effort he says he enjoyed every step of the way.
Born fifth in the family of nine children of Mervyn and Anna Margaret MacDonald, Blair never lacked for teammates in practice scrimmages.
He went on to enjoy an outstanding 10-year professional hockey career in the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League, during which he amassed 263 goals and 265 assists for 528 points while also making the all-star squad three times.
Retired from hockey for the past few years, MacDonald says he still gets nostalgic on Labour Day weekends, feeling he should again be preparing to start another hockey season.
In local hockey with the Alexandria Minor Hockey Association, the youngster was encouraged by some of Glengarry’s great sports promoters. Initially there was Father Michael O’Brien, who, when he was pastor at St. Raphaels, organized the parish’s first hockey teams where MacDonald started out as a peewee. His first coach was his elder brother Tony, followed by Alex MacCulloch, Cameron MacDonald, Archie McRae and Emile Hurtubise. “He was a pleasure to coach,” Cameron recalls. “He had a natural talent and always listened well without any back-talk.”
MacDonald played three years of major junior hockey with the Cornwall Royals, coached the fist year by Ralph Hurley and Jim Larin, the second year (1971-72) by Orval Tessier when the team won its first Memorial Cup and by Ron Racette in his final year.
He made the all-star team the last two years and in the 1973 amateur draft, was selected by the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the WHA’s Edmonton Oilers.
After signing with the Oilers, he played two-and-a-half years in Edmonton before being traded to the Indianapolis Racers in December, 1975. He was to play there for a year-and-a-half before being traded back to Edmonton in September, 1977.
The next three years were his best in pro hockey. As team captain, he scored 34 goals both in 77-78 and ‘78-79 while making the WHA all-star squad both seasons.
The WHA merged with the NHL in ‘79-80 and MacDonald enjoyed his finest season as a professional as he compiled 46 goals and 48 assists for 94 points, finishing in the top ten in league scoring while joining line mate Wayne Gretzky on the all-star team.
MacDonald was then traded to the Vancouver Canucks and was a member of the team that was a Stanley Cup finalist in 1981-82.
At the end of his NHL career, he headed to Europe where he played three years in Austria, scoring 110 goals in 108 games. He got his first coaching experience serving as an assistant both in Vienna and Innsbruck.
On his return to Canada, he spent the 1985-86 season with the FIA, an organization that conducted coaching clinics in western Canada. The following year, MacDonald broke into the professional coaching ranks, taking over the American Hockey League’s Fredericton Express in late November. HE took the team to the Calder Cup finals where the Express lost to Hershey.
From there it was off to the International Hockey League where he was head coach in Muskegon, the farm tam of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The first year, he led his team to the Turner Cup, but he lost out in the finals the following season.
His third year was a most interesting one as the parent Penguins won the Stanley Cup.
MacDonald retired from hockey at this point so that he could spend more time with his young family. He lives in Vancouver with his wife Lisa and children Tyler, Jordan, Tavish and Alexandra and is busy with minor hockey there.