LITTLE HARBOUR – Lowell MacDonald says he’s surprised but also appreciates being a subject of a new book on hockey cards.
The former NHLer, who grew up in Thorburn and still spends his summers in Pictou County, learned that a chapter about him includes a picture of his Los Angeles Kings rookie hockey card from 1968-69 in the recently released book called Hockey Card Stories 2 authored by Pictou County native Ken Reid.
MacDonald joined the Kings in the NHL’s 1967 expansion draft, and the card includes a short note and the 21 goals and 23 assists he contributed to the Kings.
He said he didn’t know about the card and was not near the collector of such things as his mother was.
“I didn’t know I had one of them,” he said. “You don’t think about it when you’re playing. My mother was very good, though. She saved so much stuff.”
Born on August 30, 1941, MacDonald began his hockey career playing minor and high school hockey in Pictou County. He starred on the East Pictou Blue Eagles when they captured the Nova Scotia Headmaster hockey championship in 1958-59.
He played major junior hockey for the Hamilton Red Wings before joining the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. He played parts of four seasons with the parent club briefly but mostly with their AHL affiliate, Pittsburgh Hornets before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
MacDonald never played an NHL game with the Leafs, who sent him to their AHL affiliate in Rochester for one game, followed by parts of two seasons with the CHL’s Tulsa Oilers.
Besides returning to the NHL in 1967 when he joined the Kings, MacDonald said his big break was playing for Red Kelly, the great defenceman with the Wings and centre with the Leafs. He helped each team win four Stanley Cups.
“Red couldn’t be more accommodating,” he said.
MacDonald’s aversion to long plan flights halted his NHL career for several years.
He recalled finishing his arts degree at Saint Mary’s Universities while playing hockey with the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Springfield Indians.
“I finished my BA while playing eight or 10 weekends,” he said. “I just played home games.”
MacDonald’s best years followed with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, with Kelly as his coach again. However, the success was hardly immediate due to a series of knee surgeries.
His first full season in 1972-73 with the Penguins was pivotal. He played left wing, although he was a right-handed shot, on a line that featured Syl Apps Jr. and Al McDonough that season and Jean Pronovost afterward.
Now 91, Kelly is someone MacDonald continues to hold in high regard.
“We had four unbelievable years,” he said. “If he hadn’t been there, I don’t think I’d have given it a try. He was as good a person as it was possible to be.”
Lowell MacDonald enjoys a peak at a story on him in the book Hockey Card Stories 2 authored by Pictou County native Ken Reid. (Goodwin photo)