Skip to main content

Ab McDonald, a native of Winnipeg, played 16 seasons in the NHL from 1958-72 with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues before playing the final two seasons of his career with the WHA's Winnipeg Jets from 1972-74. He was the first captain of the Winnipeg Jets and scored the first goal of the Jets' WHA era. He was a four-time Stanley Cup champion, winning the cup in four consecutive seasons from 1958-1961. His reputation as an outstanding teammate carried over into his life after hockey. Off the ice, Mr. McDonald always represented our hockey community proudly.

McDonald's Story

A Look Back

A LOOK BACK AT THE CAREER OF WINNIPEG JET HALL OF FAMER AB MCDONALD AND HIS CAREER IN WINNIPEG

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENTS

1972-1974 AS A WINNIPEG JET

AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS
  • MJHL Second All-Star Team (1953)
  • Turnbull Cup MJHL Championships (1953 and 1954)
  • MJHL Scoring Champion (1954)
  • NHL All-Star Game (1958, 1959, 1961, 1969 and 1970)
  • Stanley Cup Championships (1958, 1959, 1960 and 1961)
  • Inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 1996
  • "Honoured Member" of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame

Career Statistics

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
1954-55 St. Catharines Teepees OHA 49 33 37 70 0            
1955-56 St. Catharines Teepees OHA 48 49 34 83 0            
1956-57 Rochester Americans AHL 64 21 31 52 8   9 3 1 4 0
1957-58 Rochester Americans AHL 70 30 33 63 18   -- -- -- -- --
1957-58 Montreal Canadiens NHL -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 0 0 0 2
1958-59 Montreal Canadiens NHL 69 13 23 36 35   11 1 1 2 6
1959-60 Montreal Canadiens NHL 68 9 13 22 26   -- -- -- -- --
1960-61 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 61 17 16 33 22   8 2 2 4 0
1961-62 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 65 22 18 40 8   12 6 6 12 0
1962-63 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 69 20 41 61 12   6 2 3 5 9
1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 70 14 32 46 19   7 2 2 4 0
1964-65 Providence Reds AHL 6 2 1 3 2   -- -- -- -- --
1964-65 Boston Bruins NHL 60 9 9 18 6   -- -- -- -- --
1965-66 Memphis Wings CPHL 20 9 6 15 4   -- -- -- -- --
1965-66 Detroit Red Wings NHL 43 6 16 22 6   10 1 4 5 2
1966-67 Pittsburgh Hornets AHL 61 25 31 56 22   9 5 2 7 4
1966-67 Detroit Red Wings NHL 12 2 0 2 2   -- -- -- -- --
1967-68 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 74 22 21 43 38   -- -- -- -- --
1968-69 St. Louis Blues NHL 68 21 21 42 12   12 2 1 3 10
1969-70 St. Louis Blues NHL 64 25 30 55 8   16 5 10 15 13
1970-71 St. Louis Blues NHL 20 0 5 5 6   -- -- -- -- --
1971-72 Tidewater Wings AHL 41 5 7 12 4   -- -- -- -- --
1971-72 Detroit Red Wings NHL 19 2 3 5 0   -- -- -- -- --
1972-73 Winnipeg Jets WHA 77 17 24 41 16   14 2 5 7 2
1973-74 Winnipeg Jets WHA 70 12 17 29 8   4 0 1 1 2
  WHA Totals   147 29 41 70 24   18 2 6 8 4
  NHL Totals   762 182 248 430 200   84 21 29 50 42

McDonald's Story

BY MITCHELL CLINTON

No matter who is telling the story, every recollection of Ab McDonald seems to start in Winnipeg.

For Winnipeg Jets alumni Perry Miller, a Winnipegger just like McDonald, his story begins very early.

He grew up and bragged about growing up on Alexander (Avenue) and Quelch (Street). I grew up on Quelch and Logan (Avenue). Logan and Alexander are one block apart and I was two houses from Quelch," said Miller. "As a kid growing up on Logan Avenue, that's all you heard about was Ab McDonald. You continue to hear it now."

Miller never played with McDonald. Miller came to Winnipeg the season after McDonald retired. But that didn't mean he never saw McDonald hanging around the dressing room.

He always came down and was always welcome in the room," Miller recalled. "He was always the Jets number one captain."

In many ways, it's the perfect story - a hometown product comes home and becomes the first captain of a new franchise.

That's the way it was for McDonald, but he wasn't just given the 'C' to complete a fairy tale. He earned that honour.

Prior to coming to the World Hockey Association's newly formed Winnipeg Jets in 1972, McDonald played 14 seasons in the National Hockey League.

He amassed 430 points in 762 career games with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the St. Louis Blues.

But the left-winger also performed in the postseason, winning three consecutive Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens between 1958 and 1960, before winning one more with the Blackhawks in 1961.

 

In many ways, it's the perfect story - a hometown product comes home and becomes the first captain of a new franchise.

PERRY MILLER

He was very competitive, very skilled. Probably a better player than given credit for. You don't play on the Montreal Canadiens in the 50s and 60s, you don't play on the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961 unless you're a pretty talented player," said Joe Daley, who played with McDonald during his final two seasons in Winnipeg. "He played on the top line in Chicago and throughout his career was a 200-foot hockey player."

As a goaltender, Daley appreciated that type of game from McDonald.

I have a picture that I'm fortunate to have of him and Billy Sutherland back checking in 1972 in our first season in the playoffs against New England," said Daley. "Two guys in front of my net in our end of the rink, and those are the two guys that are there. He gave it all he had every night. He never took a night off. He wasn't a robust player but didn't have to back down from anybody given the stature he was."

As competitive as he was on the ice, McDonald was just as gracious off the ice.

Whether it was golf tournaments, alumni events, or just meeting people on the street, McDonald was there.

I don't think Ab knew the word 'no.' That wasn't in his vocabulary. He was always a 'yes' man. If he was asked to be here or be there, do anything, it was always 'I can make it,'" said Daley. "When they say 'how do you want to be remembered?' Follow Ab, and you'll be remembered."

Jordy Douglas never played with McDonald but watched him as a player and has spent the last 30 years as a fellow Winnipeg Jets Alumni member.

After McDonald passed away on Sept. 5, 2018 at the age of 82, Douglas gave the eulogy at McDonald's funeral.

I said in the eulogy that I always respected Jean Beliveau. He was royalty, hockey royalty, in Montreal and Quebec. Everywhere he went people would want to be around him, want to shake his hand, want to say 'hi' to him," Douglas said. "Our hockey royalty in Manitoba is Ab McDonald. When Ab walked into a room, unlike us, people would get up and go say 'hi' to Ab. Where we walk in a room and we'd have to go around and say 'hi' to everybody. Ab had that much respect and admiration."

That respect and admiration was felt throughout the city, province, and country.

He finished his two seasons as Jets captain with 29 goals and 70 points in 147 games. But he'll always be known far more as a teammate, and a complete player, than any individual statistic.

Just ask long-time NHL coach Scotty Bowman, who coached McDonald from 1968-1971.

(McDonald's) nephew had run into Scotty Bowman a number of years ago," said Douglas. "He asked him in a roundabout way if he had a comment about Ab McDonald. Scotty Bowman basically said, 'Ab McDonald is a man without an ego.'"

He may be without an ego, but he will have a banner as the newest inductee into the Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame.