For a time in the late 1950’s, it looked like Don McKenney and the Boston Bruins had it all going for them. The Bruins reached the Stanley Cup finals twice and McKenney was annually among the NHL’s top ten in offense.
McKenney led the NHL in 1959-60 with 49 assists and the following year, he was among the top ten goal scorers. But, the numbers dropped fast and he would never again be an offensive threat in the NHL. In 1963-64, a midseason trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs would give him the only Stanley Cup championship of his career.
Don McKenney – Junior and Minor Pro
Don McKenney played three years of junior with the Barrie Flyers from 1950-51 to 1952-53. That 1952-53 team is legendary in the city of Barrie, Ontario. Don was joined on the roster by Orval Tessier, Doug Mohns and Don Cherry. In net was Marv Edwards.
The Flyers finished first in the eight team league and took the championship, beating Toronto St. Michael’s in the finals. The series was a rare best of nine and Barrie was down by a game after five, before roaring back with three straight wins.
The Barrie Flyers then took out the Quebec Citadelles for the Richardson Cup championship, earning a berth in the Memorial Cup finals. The opponent was the St. Boniface Canadiens and the venues included Winnipeg and Brandon in Manitoba. Barrie came out victorious for the Memorial Cup championship.
McKenney entered the world of pro hockey in 1953-54 with the Hershey Bears in the AHL. he played just 54 games during the regular season due to a broken thumb and a knee injury. Still, he put up good rookie numbers with 34 points. The Bears lost in the Calder Cup finals to the Cleveland Barons.
He would get his American Hockey League championship some years later, after his NHL career had mostly fizzled. Playing for the 1966-67 Pittburgh Hornets, McKenney contributed 26 goals and 62 points during the regular season and was a point per game over nine playoff games. The Hornets captured the Calder Cup championship, beating the Rochester Americans in the finals.
Don finished out his pro hockey career in the AHL with the Providence Reds in 1968-69 and part of 1969-70. In 1968-69, McKenney led the team with 48 assists and 74 points. He tied for sixth in the AHL for assists and tied for seventh in overall scoring.
Don McKenney – NHL
Between 1954-55 and 1967-68, Don McKenney played in 798 regular season National Hockey League games. Over that time, he scored 237 and assisted on 345 for 582 points. The bulk of his career was spent with the Boston Bruins but McKenney also played for the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues.
Don McKenney Collection
In the playoffs, Don added 47 points in 58 games. With the Bruins, he played in the finals in both 1956-57 and 1957-58. In both seasons, Boston lost to the mighty Montreal Canadiens. In 1963-64, he finally won a Stanley Cup when his Toronto Maple Leafs took out the Detroit Red Wings for the championship.
In 1957-58, McKenney was a dynamo in the playoffs with nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in 12 games. It was two points less than teammate and playoff leader Fleming Mackell and two points ahead of Maurice Richard from the Cup winning Habs.
In seven seasons, all with Boston, McKenney scored 20 or more goals. He topped out with 32 goals in 1958-59, tying him with Gordie Howe of the Red Wings for sixth spot in the NHL. That year, he also placed eighth in the race for the Art Ross Trophy with Andy Hebenton of the New York Rangers and Tod Sloan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, all with 62 points.
1956-57 was the first year his numbers made a mark, finishing sixth in the NHL with 39 assists and seventh with 60 points. The following year, he was tenth in the NHL with 58 points.
The Bruins had started their downward spiral by 1959-60. McKenney did what he could for the suffering club. He led the National Hockey League with 49 assists and was eighth in the league with 69 points. Don was awarded the Lady Byng Trophy, despite sitting 28 minutes in penalties.
His last kick at the offensive can came in 1960-61 when he tied for tenth in the league with 26 goals, equaling Andy Hebenton of the Rangers. The Bruins would trade him to those Rangers a year and half later. On February 6, 1963, he went to the Big Apple, in exchange for Dean Prentice.
His time in New York was short and on February 22, 1964, he was sent to the Maple Leafs with Andy Bathgate. Going to the Rangers was a handful of players, including Bob Nevin, Dick Duff, Bill Collins, Arnie Brown and Rod Seiling. As mentioned, he arrived in Toronto in time to win a Stanley Cup, Toronto’s third of three consecutive.
After spending limited time with the Red Wings in 1965-66, the St. Louis Blues picked up Don McKenney in the ninth round of the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft, 54th overall. He played just 39 games for the Blues in 1967-68, his last action in the NHL.
Don McKenney – Rookie Card
The Don McKenney rookie card appears as number 35 in the 1954-55 Topps NHL hockey card set. He is shown with the Boston Bruins and is referred on the back of the card as the youngest player in the NHL.
McKenney’s 1957-58 Topps card talks about him being a good baseball shortstop prospect who turned down offers from both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
In 1958-59, Topps talks about his 113 goals in five years with the Bruins and how that almost makes him a cinch to become a 200 goal man before he retires. His career slowed considerably after that but he did pass that 200 goal plateau, ending his career with 237.
Don McKenney Career Stats
|1962-63||New York Rangers||NHL||21||8||16||24||4|
|1963-64||New York Rangers||NHL||55||9||17||26||6|
|1963-64||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||15||9||6||15||2|
|1964-65||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||52||6||13||19||6|
|1965-66||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||24||1||6||7||0|
|1967-68||Kansas City Blues||CPHL||11||9||6||15||5|
|1967-68||St. Louis Blues||NHL||39||9||20||29||4|