The first goal ever scored by the Winnipeg Jets was scored by Alvin “Ab” McDonald. While he was in New York helping the Jets win their first game in the World Hockey Association in 1972, his wife, Pat, was home in Winnipeg having their fifth baby.
McDonald spent fourteen seasons in the NHL, winning three Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens when there were only six teams in the big time. Only 22 when he reached Montreal, McDonald played in the NHL for 702 games, most (265) with the Chicago Blackhawks. During a four-year stay in Chicago he played a role in their capture of the 1960-61 Stanley Cup. He was a Boston Bruin in 1964-65, a Detroit Red Wing in 1965-66 and in 1971-72, a Pittsburgh Penguin in 1967-68 and a St. Louis Blue from 1968 until 1971. He scored 182 goals, drew 248 assists, and spent less than four hours in the penalty box in 16 major league seasons. A tall (6-2), solid (194 pounds) left winger, he put up with some fuss and caused less.
He enjoyed every city and every team he ever played for, but Winnipeg was always home. Teammates said he drove them crazy with his bragging about Winnipeg. So when the time came in 1972 to come home to play for the Jets, Ab McDonald was there front and centre as the team’s first captain. “I know I won’t play long,” he said. “But I saw this as an opportunity to help bring major league hockey to the city.” 24 years later the team was gone and the city was poorer. “What can I say,” he said. “We had them for 24 years. That’s pretty good. I’m not sure they had to leave, but at least we had them for a long time.” Ab McDonald was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
b. February 18, 1936