Lanny McDonald says leadership requires a lot more than somebody talking a good game in the dressing room before puck drop.
McDonald is Hockey Hall of Famer who won the Stanley Cup in 1989 as captain of the Calgary Flames. He said the key to being a great leader is backing up what you say by being a role model on and off the ice — with a desire to give back to the community that supported you along the way.
“If you don’t do what you’re saying out on the ice it rings hollow,” McDonald told The Western Star earlier this week. He was preparing to visit the city as part of the Scotiabank team coming to Corner Brook for Hockey Day in Canada later this month.
McDonald, who was spending the holidays at a home in Montana that’s been his getaway place for more than 40 years, enjoyed a 16-year National Hockey League career that saw him wear the C for the Calgary Flames and Colorado Rockies and an A as alternate captain when he broke into the league with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s one thing to be on top of things with the team on the ice, but McDonald insisted good leaders shine outside the rink by being good community-minded individuals who know the importance of giving back to a game that was good to them.
McDonald is known for his commitment to do charity work during and after his career. He found something he loved to do when he got involved with Hockey Day in Canada eight years ago.
He’s excited about coming to Corner Brook for Hockey Day in Canada. He’s visited St. John’s on a dozen or so occasions over the years, but he’s never been to the west coast.
Being able to share his wisdom and expertise along with former NHLers such as Mark Napier, Darcy Tucker and former Canadian women’s hockey star Cassie Campbell-Pascall, is McDonald’s way to give back. He played for 16 years before being rewarded with a Cup in 1989 before hanging up his skates.
He looks at his presence at Hockey Day in Canada as a teaching opportunity. It’s all about teaching young players the right way to play the game and how to show respect to everybody involved in the game. He said it’s been a lot of fun for him.
McDonald said he learned a valuable lesson from teammate Ron Ellis when he was struggling early in his career with the Leafs. Ellis and McDonald were both right wingers so McDonald was caught off guard when Ellis was a supportive teammate during his struggles.
He asked Ellis why he was helping and Ellis told him that’s what veteran players do for young players trying to find their way.
“We pay it forward and we pass it on, and then it’s your responsibility to do that as well,” Ellis told McDonald.
“If you could make them feel good about themselves chances are it’s going to translate into not only playing better on the ice, but better for the entire team,” he added.
McDonald said he’s anxious to find out what Corner Brook is all and is ready to embrace a hectic schedule of teaching and inspiring young hockey players.
He’s looking forward to meeting young and old alike through school visits, on-ice clinics and playing shinny with the youngsters. It’s go, go, go and he wouldn’t want it any other way because, he said, he gets satisfaction from making a difference to young players looking for direction in life.
He said he likes playing for the Scotiabank team and his commitment to growing hockey from coast to coast hasn’t wavered since being rewarded with so many great moments throughout his storied career. He’s become a Canadian icon through his great personality and trademark bushy red moustache as much as his impressive numbers as a Hockey Hall of Famer.
He wants people to keep in mind that Hockey Day in Canada is not just a hockey event. He said it’s about bringing people together for a lot of fun and celebration of the game.
“If you love the game it’s pretty easy to love what you do,” he said.