Friday, November 26, 2010



by: Ron "Scoreboard" Johnston

Al MacInnis was born on July 11, 1963, at Inverness, Nova Scotia. He had the blues long before he ever played in St. Louis.

It's a little-known fact that the former NHL defenseman, who was inducted into the Hockey hall of Fame, began his junior career in Regina, Saskatchewan with the SJHL's Pat Blues, who were basically a farm team to the Regina Major Pats.

Regina Pats General Manager Bob Strumm recruited MacInnis, after watching him play in a Winnipeg midget tournament. He spent the next season, 1979-1980, with the Pats Canadien Blues as a 16-year old, played in 59 games (59-20-28-48-110), also dressing for 2 games with the Regina Pats of the WHL (Western Hockey League).

"Today, Al would have been on the major junior team easily," Strumm, the director of pro scouting for the Columbus Blue Jackets, said in an e-mail interview. "In those days, it was difficult to keep a 16-year-old and we already had Garth Butcher on the Pats. In fact, Butcher, MacInnis and Al Tuer were our three 16-year-olds on Defense that season. What a group!"

Strumm fondly recalled MacInnis's work ethic and desire to hone his skills, noting that he, "shot pucks EVERY day after practice. He didn't come by the best shot in the NHL by accident."

The lanky teenager also showed a bit of a mean streak.

"We worried about his toughness that year," said Strumm. "He was tall but slight. Then one night he fought Grant Fagerheim from the Estevan Bruins at the Regina Agridome. It was NO contest...for Al. He really gave it to him. We knew after that he was going to be a player for sure."

Al played for the Guelph Platers, of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) the f ollowing season and also 1986-87. He was drafted by the NHL Buffalo Sabres in 1987.

Attended the St. Francis Xavier University in Novia Scotia from 1987-1988 to 1990-1991, were he tallied 112 points, 54 goals, 58 assists. After University, he joined the Hampton Road Admirals for the 1991-1992 season and led the team with a +33 rating. He represented the Admiral in the 1993 ECHL All-Star game. During that same season,

MacInnis made appearances with the AHL's Baltimore Skipjacks and Cape Breton Oilers. MacManus has captured four championships, three as a player; the CHL's Memorial Cup Champion Guelph Platers in 1987, The ECHL Champion Hampton Roads Admirals in 1992 and the Calder Cup Champion Cape Breton Oilers in 1993.

Played in the NHL with the Calgary Flames from 1982-1982 to 1993-1994, then with the St. Louis Blue from 1994-1995 to 2003-2004.

In 1994, MacInnis joined the Norfolk Admirals' front office as the assistant general manager. He was named general manager of hockey operations for the Admirals in 1996. In 1997-1998, the Admirals, then the Blackhawks' minor league affiliate, won their third ECHL Championship.

AL MACINNIS: When I was kid growing up in a my small town of Porta in Cape Breton Island, a small fishing village. (Port Hood is on the west coast of Cape Breton Island and the capital of Inverness County, on the Ceilidh Trail). When I became 9 or 10 years old, he was one of the two gentlemen that looked after the local ice arena. I used to go help them close up at night time and walk around and collect all the pucks that went over the boards and over the glass.

When the Spring time came along and school was out, I probably had 75 to a 100 pucks. If it wasn’t a beach day in my hometown, I used to just shoot pucks all day long. I can remember spending hours out there just shooting pucks off a sheet of plywood off my dad’s barn. Unfortunally my dad would have to resingal the barn in the fall.

I was just doing it for pastime and never thinking that it would end up the way it did and be known for the slap shot. But there was no secret stick or composite stick back then. There were just old wooden sticks with three rolls of tape on it. Used to just fire pucks, and there is no question that’s how the shot became what it is or what it was.


Port Hood, Nova Scotia