SUN Hockey Pool

When the duster settled ...

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

Back when the homeside wore whites, you didn't need a replica red jersey to prove your passion for the Calgary Flames.

A fake red moustache was good enough. Maybe even better.

"I think Lanny was selling them on the side," quipped former Flames GM Cliff Fletcher.

Lanny McDonald insists he never earned a penny of profit from the unique souvenirs. But two decades after capping his Hall-of-Fame career with a Stanley Cup celebration, he's still sporting the 'stache.

"It'd be pretty hard to shave it off now," he said. "I'd have to go into hiding for two years or something like that."

One of the greatest players to ever wear the Flaming C, it'd take more than a clean shave for fans to forget about McDonald. A regular on the charity hockey circuit and an active member of the Flames alumni, you could make a case he still ranks among Calgary's most prominent -- and popular -- sports figures.

"Even people that don't know him, never seen him play -- the younger kids --they all know who Lanny is because their parents have talked about him or their grandparents have talked about him," said defenceman Jamie Macoun, one of eight 1989 Flames who still lives in the city. "I mean, he's the one with the moustache."

The photo of a jubilant McDonald hoisting the Holy Grail is one of the endearing images of Calgary's championship run. He was the elder statesman on a team stocked with uber-talented twenty-somethings, but the then-36-year-old wanted to be nothing more than just one of the guys.

"They had this thing going: 'Win it for Lanny,' " McDonald said. "Hell, we just wanted to win it. It wasn't for anybody. It was for the whole group. Whether that was kind of a half-assed rallying cry or whatever, it didn't matter.

"But to be Albertan -- to kind of go full circle from Toronto to Colorado and back to Calgary and end up winning the Cup in your home province and where we live today -- what can you say? That's kind of the storybook ending."

McDonald scored a pile of goals in a Flames uniform -- including a franchise-record 66 in '82-83 -- but there's one that seems to stick out in the minds of his former teammates.

During their Cup-clinching victory at the old Montreal Forum, McDonald burst out of the penalty box and scored on an odd-man rush to give the visitors a one-goal edge.

The Flames led the rest of the way.

"For him to score the big goal and kind of carry the Cup off, you couldn't write the script any better," said centre Joe Nieuwendyk, who assisted on the marker. "I think everybody remembers that."

The details might be a little blurry, but few will ever forget the contributions McDonald made in Calgary, where his No. 9 jersey was the first in club history to be retired.

You can count his old teammates among his biggest fans.

"He was unbelievable. He's an ambassador for the game. He's one of the greatest players to play the game. He's a great guy," said left-winger Colin Patterson. "You combine all those factors together and you feel so lucky -- I mean, he's a Hockey Hall-of Famer. To have him on your team and to be part of your organization and your city, that's a real honour.

"For people in Montreal, Lanny's like a modern-day Jean Beliveau. I think sometimes people might take it for granted, but Lanny is just one of those guys who is way above all others."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA\


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