One of the most dominant defensemen to ever don the ‘Note is NHL Hall of Famer Al MacInnis.
His legend as a player is characterized by his powerful slap shot. For example, as a member of the Calgary Flames in 1984, “Chopper” blasted a bomb against St. Louis Blues’ goalie Mike Liut so hard that it cracked his mask and, as the shell-shocked net minder fell to the ice, the puck bounced in for a goal.
MacInnis often broke the 100 MPH plateau when competing in the annual “Hardest Shot Competition” held during All-Star Weekend. From 1991 to 2003, he won the event seven times.
Long story short, if a skater got in the way of one of his trademark slappers, the least that would have occurred, if they were extremely lucky, was that it would leave a mark. The worst? You shudder to think but a permanent imprint of the NHL logo would not be too far-fetched. He hit the puck that dang hard.
This made the right-hander both respected and feared in his 23-year career, ten in tenure for the Blues.
Not only was MacInnis a red-lamp-lighting force but he was also an important catalyst in setting up team mates. With the Flames full-time in thirteen seasons, his average assists per year totaled in the 50’s.
After being acquired by the Blues at the beginning of the 1994-95 campaign, his subsequent yearly totals in both goals and assists decreased a bit. Arguably, it was a by-product of a game that was trending to lower point production for skaters overall.
Entering his late-30s in the late-1990s, “Chopper” still possessed the rapid-fire precision and intuitiveness that kept career numbers growing. A benchmark recorded on this date 18 years ago was a personal highlight.
In an April 7, 1998 road game against Detroit, MacInnis scored a goal and assist to record 1,000 career points, joining five others at that position to hold that distinction. Knowing his humbleness, he probably would have traded that accolade for a win as the Blues fell to the Red Wings 5-3.
“Chopper” proceeded to score 340 goals and 1,274 points in his NHL career, won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as “Best Defenseman” in 1999 and was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 2007. He ranks third all-time at the position in total points scored.
Off-ice, MacInnis is still with the Blues today as the team’s Vice-President of Hockey Operations but the on-ice achievement netted 18 years ago today still remains a historical benchmark in local hockey history.
How hard was MacInnis’ slap shot? He broke the boards in a home pre-game warm-up.