|Born||September 27, 1935 |
Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight||180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)|
|Played for||Toronto Maple Leafs|
Chicago Black Hawks
New York Rangers
Al MacNeil (born Allister Wences MacNeil on September 27, 1935) is a former player and coach of the NHL.
He became the first man from the Maritime region of Canada to be a head coach in the NHL.
Al played parts of eleven seasons in the National Hockey League as a rugged defenceman with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Upon retiring as a player, he turned to coaching with the Montreal Voyageurs of the American Hockey League, top farm club of the Canadiens, for the 1969–70 season.
After a successful debut, Al became an assistant coach to Claude Ruel of the NHL Canadiens for the 1970–71 season.
During that season, the Montreal Canadiens struggled for a good portion of the season, at one point in danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight year—something that hadn't happened since they missed the playoffs three years in a row from 1919 to 1922.
Ruel resigned 25 games into the season and Al took the helm; meanwhile, the club swung a major trade to net top scoring left wing Frank Mahovlich from the Detroit Red Wings.
The Canadiens rallied to qualify for the playoffs as third seed in their division, then Al led the team to an unexpected Stanley Cup championship.
The Habs stunned the heavily favoured Boston Bruins in the opening round of the playoffs, and then defeated the Minnesota North Stars and Chicago Black Hawks, winning the latter series after having been behind 3–2.
Crucial to the Stanley Cup victory was MacNeil's decision to use rookie goaltender Ken Dryden in the playoffs despite Dryden having played only six regular-season games in 1970–71. Al was presumably impressed that Dryden won all these games, allowing only nine goals (1.65 GAA).
Another crucial choice was having rookie Rejean Houle mark the Black Hawks' goalscorer Bobby Hull. Houle was nicknamed the "shadow of Bobby Hull" as Hull managed to score only one even-strength goal in the series.
Unfortunately, Al had a frosty relationship with most of the team's francophone players, most notably Henri Richard. He was the first Canadiens coach in recent memory who couldn't speak French at all.
When Al benched Richard during the final series against the Black Hawks, Richard publicly criticised the coach, calling him incompetent.
In game seven held at Chicago, being tied at 2–2 after the first two periods, the Canadiens scored the winning goal early in the third to take the series and the championship, with Richard scoring both the equalizer and game winner.
Al and Richard hugged at the end of the game, but that did little to patch up their differences. Winning the Cup, however, was not enough to save Al's job; he was demoted to head coach of the Canadiens' American Hockey League affiliate, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs while the fluently bilingual Scotty Bowman succeeded him as head coach of the Habs.
He won three Calder Cup Championships (1972, 1976, 1977) in six years with the Voyageurs.
On October 10, 2013, it was announced Al had been named to the AHL's 2014 Hall of Fame class, alongside Bob Perreault, John Slaney and Bill Dineen.
Al later returned to the Canadiens winning two more Stanley Cups as Director of Player Personnel in 1978 and 1979.
Atlanta Flames\Calgary Flames
In 1979, Al left the Canadiens to take over the Atlanta Flames, just before the team moved to Calgary.
He lasted three seasons as head coach of the Calgary Flames before moving into a number of management-related capacities within the Flames organization. He won his fourth Stanley Cup in 1989 as Calgary's assistant general manager.
On December 10, 2001, he returned to head coaching duties after almost two decades when the Flames head coach at the time, Greg Gilbert was suspended for a period of two games for his role in a brawl in a game with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
When Gilbert was fired in the next season due to the Flames' poor performance, MacNeil once again assumed interim head coaching duties before Darryl Sutter was hired.
Al has been involved in professional hockey for more than 50 years as a player, coach, assistant manager and the director of hockey operations.
|1955–56||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||1||0||0||0||2||—||—||—||—||—|
|1956–57||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||53||4||8||12||84||—||—||—||—||—|
|1957–58||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||13||0||0||0||9||—||—||—||—||—|
|1959–60||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||4||0||0||0||2||—||—||—||—||—|
|1966–67||New York Rangers||NHL||58||0||4||4||44||4||0||0||0||2|
NHL Coaching Record
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|MTL||1970–71||55||31||15||9||-||(97)||3rd in East||Won Stanley Cup|
|ATL||1979–80||80||35||32||13||-||83||4th in Patrick||Lost in First Round|
|CGY||1980–81||80||39||27||14||-||92||3rd in Patrick||Lost in Conf Finals|
|CGY||1981–82||80||29||34||17||-||75||4th in Patrick||Lost in First Round|
|CGY||2002–03||11||4||5||2||0||(75)||5th in Northwest||Missed Playoffs|