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Flames All-Time Countdown Chapter CXXII: 30-29

In today's countdown we look back at current free agent Derek Morris and Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald.

30. Derek Morris

Morris was Calgary’s first round choice in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, 13th overall. He is a 6’, 200 lb. center from Edmonton, Alberta, and was born on August 24th, 1978. He played two seasons in the juniors, with the WHL’s Regina Pats (134 games, 26 goals, 101 assists, 250 penalty minutes). He made his professional debut near the end of the 1996-97 season with the AHL’s Saint John Flames, earning three assists in seven games, then adding three more in five playoff contests.

Just 19 years old at the start of the 1997-98 season, Morris played in all 82 Flames contests. He was eighth on the team in scoring, with 29 overall points, on nine goals and 20 assists. He took 120 shots on goal with a plus-1 rating and 88 penalty minutes, ultimately placing fifth in the year end Calder Memorial Trophy balloting. He was also second on the club with 12 power play points. On March 12th, he earned an assist and scored the game winning goal in a 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins. Calgary finished with a 26-41-15 record, their worst win percentage through their first 42 years of existence.

In 1998-99, Morris ranked seventh on the Flames with 34 points. He scored seven goals on 150 shots with 27 assists, a plus-4 rating, and a team fifth 73 penalty minutes. He averaged 20:44 through 71 games on the blueline earning top-four minutes. On November 16th, he posted his first two-goal game in a 5-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Calgary improved to 30-40-12, still well short of the brass ring.

Morris averaged a team-high 24:51 per game in 1999-00 over 78 appearances. He was fifth on the team with 38 points, on nine markers and 29 helpers. He took 193 shots on goal, and earned a team-third plus-2 rating and a team-fourth 80 penalty minutes. His 6.9 point shares were the second most of the team’s defenseman. On January 18th, he earned three assists in a 6-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Calgary went 31-36-10-5.

2000-01 would see Morris skate a career high 25:51 per game, but only appeared in 51 contests due to injury. He scored five goals on 142 shots with a team-sixth 23 assists, earning a minus-15 rating and 56 minutes in the penalty box. On December 16th, he tabbed three assists in a 6-5 overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Calgary finished the season at a disappointing 27-36-15-4.

In 2001-02, Morris was fourth on the Flames with 34 points. He totaled four goals on 66 shots with 30 assists (a team leading 19 on the power play), a plus-2 rating, and 60 penalty minutes. He played 24:40 per night over 61 appearances, leading the defensive corps with a 5.6 point share. On February 28th, he earned an assist and scored the game winning goal in a 3-2 Flames win over the St. Louis Blues. Calgary finished with a 32-35-12-3 record. They had five seasons with Morris at or near the top defensive pairing, and zero postseasons to show for it.

During the 2002 offseason, the Flames traded Morris with Jeff Shantz and Dean McAmmond to the Colorado Avalanche for Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle. He spent parts of two seasons with Colorado (144 games, 17 goals, 59 assists, 115 PiM), followed by three full seasons and some change with the Phoenix Coyotes, 18 games with the New York Rangers (18 games, zero goals, eight assists), 58 with the Boston Bruins (three goals, 22 assists), and four and a half more seasons in Phoenix (544 games, 38 goals, 114 assists, 462 penalty minutes). He is currently a free agent.

All-Time Statline: 343 games, 34 goals, 129 assists, minus-12 rating, 385 penalty minutes, 27.71 point shares.

29. Lanny McDonald

Lanny McDonald owns Calgary’s single season record for goals scored, is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, the owner of an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Calgary, four time all-star, former Stanley Cup Champion, and Special Olympics activist. All that aside, most people remember him for his most defining physical characteristic (see picture).

Born on February 16th, 1953 in Hanna, Alberta, McDonald grew into the 6’, 195 lb. forward that we all came to know so well. He earned his chops at the junior level in the WCHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers for two seasons starting in 1971-72, and resulting in 112 goals and 141 assists in 136 games. The Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA selected him 10th overall in the 1973 WHA Amateur Draft, but he chose to sign instead with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who took him fourth overall in the NHL Amateur Draft that year.

McDonald didn’t spend a second in the NHL’s minor leagues, joining the Leafs immediately. He played six and a half seasons in Toronto, scoring 219 goals and 240 assists in 477 contests. He then played parts of three seasons with the Colorado Rockies, where he racked up 66 goals and 75 assists in 142 games. On November 25th, 1981, the Rockies traded him with a fourth round pick (Mikko Makela) to the Flames for Bob MacMillan and Don Lever.

The Flames clearly got the better of that trade, which soon became evident. The remainder of the 1981-82 season would see McDonald play in 55 games, and lead the team with 34 goals on 178 shots (a 19.1% shooting success rate). He added 33 assists, a team leading plus-22 rating, and 37 penalty minutes. His 5.8 point shares would be the top mark in the forward corps, and his 23 power play points (10 goals, 13 assists) were good for third on the team. Calgary finished the season with a 29-34-17 mark. They lost in the first round of the postseason to the Vancouver Canucks, three-games-to-zero. McDonald had an assist and six penalty minutes in the short series.

1982-83 would see McDonald set a franchise record with 66 goals on 272 shots, a 24.3% shot rate. He finished second in the NHL’s scoring race, however, as Wayne Gretzky lit the lamp 71 times. McDonald played in each of Calgary’s 80 games, and also added 32 assists, a minus-2 rating, and a career high 90 penalty minutes (team fifth). He led the team with eight game winning markers and with 9.8 point shares. He was selected to the all-star game, and was eventually named the winner of the Bill Masterton Trophy, given to the player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." The Flames went 32-34-14, earning a first round rematch with Vancouver. Calgary won that series three-games-to-one before losing in five to Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers. McDonald appeared in seven of the nine contests, scoring three goals with four assists.

In 1983-84, McDonald came back to earth a bit, with 33 goals and as many assists in 65 games. He took a team leading 245 shots on goal, earned a minus-15 rating, and spent 64 minutes in the penalty box. It was also the first season that he wore the "C," on his sweater, signifying his position as the teams’ captain. He would retain the position for the rest of his career. The Flames went 34-32-14, again defeated the Canucks in four, then again lost to the Oilers in the second round, this time in seven games. McDonald had six goals and seven assists through the postseason.

McDonald’s contribution in 1984-85 was limited by assorted pulled muscles to 43 games. He scored 19 goals on 117 shots with 18 assists, a minus-4 rating, and 36 penalty minutes. Despite losing him for nearly half the season, the Flames improved to 41-27-12. The Winnipeg Jets would quickly eliminate the Flames in the first round of the postseason, three-games-to-one. McDonald only skated in one of the games, going scoreless.

1985-86 would see McDonald rebound to put up a team-second 71 points in 80 games (just one behind team leader Dan Quinn). He had 28 goals on 227 shots with 43 assists, a minus-2 rating, and 44 penalty minutes. He was also second on the team with 28 power play points (11 goals, 17 assists). Calgary went 40-31-9 to finish second in the NHL Smythe Division, then charged through the Clarence Campbell (Jets in three, Oilers in seven, St. Louis Blues in seven) to face the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose in five games. McDonald had 11 goals, seven assists, and 30 penalty minutes.

In 1986-87, McDonald played 58 times for the Flames, and scored 14 goals on 127 shots with a dozen assists. He earned a minus-3 rating and 54 penalty minutes. The Flames finished with 95 points on the strength of a 46-31-3 record. The Jets eliminated Calgary in six games in the first round. McDonald played in five of them, earning a minus-3 rating and failing to score a point.

McDonald earned the King Clancy Award in 1987-88, an annual trophy presented to the player who best exemplifies leadership and humanitarian contribution. He appeared 60 times and scored 10 goals on 79 shots with 13 assists, 57 penalty minutes and a plus-2 rating. At 48-23-9, Calgary finished with a then-record 105 points. They defeated the Oilers in four straight before losing in five to the Los Angeles Kings. McDonald had three goals and an assist while playing in each of the nine games.

1988-89 would be McDonald’s last season in the NHL, and he couldn’t have retired on a better note. He was limited to just 51 games, and scored 11 goals on 72 shots with seven assists, a minus-1 rating, and 26 penalty minutes. The Flames were spectacular, going 54-17-9 for 117 points and the President’s Trophy. Calgary defeated the Canucks in seven, the Kings in four, the Chicago Blackhawks in five, and the Habs in six to win the Flames’ first (and thus far only) Stanley Cup. McDonald played in 14 games, scoring a goal (in the Cup clinching game) with three assists. He was the first to carry the cup around the rink in celebration.

Looking back at this guy’s career, I can’t help but thinking that he just COULDN’T be "more" hockey. Hall of Fame voters agreed, and admitted him in his first year of eligibility, with the Class of 1992. He was the first former Flame to be so honored. He is probably my favourite all-time Flame, and he’s probably at the top of most people’s lists. I’m pretty sure that some will chafe at his position in this countdown at number 29. I lean towards agreeing with those people, but remind them (and myself) that this list is entirely objective, and based solely on the point share metric.

All-Time Statline: 492 games, 215 goals, 191 assists, minus-3 rating, 408 penalty minutes, 28.79 point shares.

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