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The minute Lanny McDonald walked into the Flames' locker room, the atmosphere changed

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

They are the best of the best in Calgary Flames history.

Over 24 days we will profile our All-Time All-Stars (listed alphabetically at each position). Make sure to check back daily to see who's getting the nod.

May 7 - Theoren Fleury (RW)

May 8 - Jarome Iginla (RW)

May 9 - Hakan Loob

May 10-11 - Right-wingers

May 12-16 - Centres

May 17-21 - Left-wingers

May 22-27 - Defencemen

May 28-30 - Goaltenders

Today, we look back at Lanny McDonald's legendary tenure in Calgary:

Leave it to Colin Patterson to find a story that distills the essence of the man.

"Sure I remember the first time I met him,'' recalled the underrated left-winger on the day of Lanny McDonald's retirement nearly two decades ago. "How could I forget? My first camp, at the team golf tournament. I didn't know anybody.

"I mean, who the hell am I? Some free agent out of Clarkson College.

"Nobody knew me. But who's the first guy I meet? And he comes up and introduces himself to me.

"But that's the type of thing you hear again and again about the guy. A very human human being."

He brought a wealth of experience.

He brought a scorer's knack for the net.

He brought a moustache bushy enough for inclusion in a barbershop quartet.

He brought presence, leadership and an old-fashioned (in the best sense of the term) sense of values and work ethic.

Most of all, he brought credibility.

"Of all the trades I made through the years," adjudges GM Cliff Fletcher, the man who brought the Hanna-born McDonald home to Alberta from the sad sack Colorado Rockies on Nov. 25, 1981, "that one had the biggest impact.

"From a Calgary perspective, we were looking 180 miles up the road at this juggernaut unfolding in Edmonton, at this great young team that looked like it was going to get nothing but better and better.

"How the hell were we going to compete?

"The minute - no, the second - (McDonald) walked into our dressing room, things changed."

His impact was felt instantly, warming to his familiar surroundings by scoring 34 goals and compiling 64 points following the trade.

McDonald's first full season remains one for the time-capsule, those 66 goals - second only to Wayne Gretzky that year - a target for those who have followed and will follow that seems all-but unassailable.

"That year," he recalled, "was so much fun. Honestly, I can't describe it. One of those times when you felt every single time you went on the ice you were going to score.

"And our powerplay … every time the ref's hand went up you could feel the bench charge."

Over 492 games modelling the Flaming C, Lanny McDonald scored 215 goals and contributed 406 points.

The image of No. 9, back in the lineup for Game 6 of the '89 Stanley Cup final, peeling away after cashing a Joe Nieuendyk pass behind Patrick Roy to stake his team to a lead at the old Montreal Forum remains one of the indelible images of a franchise, engraved on our collective conscience.

Earlier in that, his final season, he'd treated Calgary fans to his 500th goal and 1,000th point.

"A thousand points, 500 goals and the Stanley Cup all in the same season?'' McDonald. "I defy anyone to top that hat-trick."

A pro's pro who conducted himself like a gentleman at all times and continues to epitomize all that is fine in the game. Helluva person. Helluva player.

Gave so much to the franchise, to the community and went out on top. His jersey is one of only two that hangs in the rafters of the Scotiabank Saddledome.

These many years later, his star hereabouts shines every bit as brightly.

"He was as much a symbol as the Flaming C,'' said defenceman Gary Suter, wrapping No. 9's impact up nicely.

"Come to think of it, when you flop that moustache of his around, it looks like a Flaming C."

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