Monday, June 04, 2012

Absurd Goalie Monday: Don McLeod

In the past, there have been some AGMs with issues when it comes to their health due to playing. This week's AGM's career almost never happened, as he was born with a club foot. With his right leg two inches shorter than his left, it's amazing that he had such a career like he did. This week, the profile of Don McLeod.

McLeod started his trek with his hometown team, the Trail Smoke Eaters, but would go 0-7-0 in his eight appearances in the 1963-64 season. In the 1964-65 season, McLeod moved to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Central Alberta League. While no stats were around for that season, McLeod played 29 games in the 1965-66 season, helping the Oil Kings win the Memorial Cup over Bobby Orr's Oshawa Generals in six games. In the 1966-67 season, McLeod played in 39 games before closing out his junior career.

Onto his next adventure, McLeod would go to the Central Pro League with the Fort Worth Wings to start the 1967-68 season, playing in 17 games with a 5-6-5 record; but would get chances in the AHL with nine games for the Springfield Kings (6-2-1) and two games with the Quebec Aces (0-1-0). The 1968-69 season saw McLeod playing in the AHL for the Springfield Kings for 34 games and a 15-13-2 record, while also playing with the Baltimore Clippers for sevens and compiling a 2-3-1 record.

McLeod returned to Fort Worth in the 1969-70 season, appearing in 37 games and finishing with an 18-11-8 record. That helped him get a call-up from the Detroit Red Wings in the 1970-71 season for 14 games, but only putting together a 3-7-0 record; but for most the season, McLeod toiled in Fort Worth for 38 games (no record), which was able to get him the Terry Sawchuk Trophy for fewest-goals-against in the season.

However, during the 1971 Reverse Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers picked up McLeod and put him in the AHL with the Providence Reds for 19 games (6-8-3) and then the Richmond Robins for five games (1-3-1), before calling him up to the main squad for four games, where he would go 0-3-1.

In February 1972, McLeod was picked but the Houston Aeros in the WHA Draft and while he was getting bounced around between the NHL and the minors-- McLeod took the chance with the Aeros in the 1972-73 season, going 19-20-1 in 41 games, and 0-3 in the playoffs. McLeod returned to the Aeros in the 1973-74 season and had a strong season, finishing with a 33-13-3 in 49 games, then 12-2 in the playoffs, helping the Aeros to the Avco World Cup. McLeod won the Ben Hastkin Trophy for WHA's best goaltender and First All-Star Team honors.

McLeod was part of the WHA's 1974 Summit Series and would lose the only game he played in, giving up eight goals to the USSR, as the Soviets would go 4-1-3. However, McLeod didn't let that get him down, as he was signed by the Vancouver Blazers for the 1974-75 season, where he would play in 72 games and go 33-35-2.

The Blazers would relocated to Calgary and become the Cowboys, where McLeod would play in the 1975-76 season, compiling a 30-27-3 record in 63 games, then 5-5 in the playoffs. In the 1976-77 season, McLeod played in 67 games for the Cowboys, but only have a 25-34-5 record to show for it.

As the Cowboys folded, they had a dispersal auction where the Quebec Nordiques would pick-up McLeod, but he would only play in seven games for the team in the 1977-78 season with a 2-4-0 record before he was on the move again. McLeod was traded to the Edmonton Oilers midway through the season and play 33 games with the Oilers and finish with a 15-10-1 record before hanging up his pads.

McLeod was 4th in all-time wins for the WHA (157), second in all-time losses (143), and third in career GAA (3.33).

Though his whereabouts are unknown (to me at least), the man they called Smokey (due to where he was from and due to having a cigarette hanging out of his mouth at any given time) beat all the odds and did what he had to in order to play the game he enjoyed. He took a chance by playing to start and then to go to the WHA when he was bounced back and forth from the AHL and NHL.  

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