Shot-blocking defencemen feared him. Goalies cringed when they saw him climb over the boards. It comes down to two words, 'the shot.'
The seven-time winner of the Hardest Shot competition at the annual NHL All-Star Game, Al MacInnis is acknowledged as possessing the hardest slapshot in the NHL, and although at one time he used it at every opportunity, MacInnis later learned to harness the fear of his shot to set up plays, take an extra step or unleash the blast with another drive.
Born Allan MacInnis on July 11, 1963 in Port Hood, Nova Scotia, Al played junior for the Kitchener Rangers beginning in 1980-81. During the summer of 1981, MacInnis was drafted in the first round, fifteenth overall, by the NHL's Calgary Flames. Although he played a handful of games for the Flames in both 1981-82 and 1982-83, MacInnis continued his junior career, which included a Memorial Cup championship in 1982 and, in 1982-83, saw him named as the recipient of the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League's best defenseman. In both seasons, he was named to the OHL's First All-Star Team.
After spending the early part of the 1983-84 season with the CHL's Colorado Flames, MacInnis became a full-time member of the Calgary Flames' blueline later that season, playing 51 games and scoring 11 goals and 34 assists for 45 points. But it was during that rookie season that his slapshot earned its reputation. On January 17, 1984, while playing with Calgary in a game against St. Louis, MacInnis wound up and fired a shot from outside the blueline that caught Blues' netminder Mike Liut on the mask, splitting it. Liut fell to the ice as the puck dribbled over the goal line. No one has taken Al MacInnis' shot for granted since.
MacInnis spent thirteen seasons with Calgary before moving to St. Louis, but left Alberta having evolved into one of the most effective defensemen in the NHL. While with the Flames, he played in eight All-Star Games, but more importantly, was a key component of a Stanley Cup championship for Calgary in 1989, the first in franchise history. For his contributions in the playoffs that spring, including 7 goals and 24 assists in 22 games, MacInnis was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.
On July 4, 1994, Calgary traded Al MacInnis and a fourth round draft pick to the St. Louis Blues, receiving Phil Housley and consecutive second round draft selections. With the Blues, Al continued to dominate, appearing in seven more All-Star contests and winning the Norris Trophy in 1999 as the league's top defenseman.
After coming off his best season offensively in over eight years in 2002-03, a year in which he tallied 68 points (16 goals and 52 assists), MacInnis was limited to but three games in 2003-04 after suffering an eye injury. Following the locked-out 2004-05 season, MacInnis announced his retirement from the game on September 9, 2005. At the time of his retirement, MacInnis had climbed to 17th place on the all-time games played list with 1,416, had accumulated 1,274 points and was twelfth on the all-time assists list with 934. Among defensemen, Al MacInnis ranks among the greatest ever, concluding his career third in goals with 340, third in assists and third in points. The St. Louis Blues retired Al's number 2 in a pre-game ceremony on April 9, 2006. In November of that year, Al MacInnis was appointed Vice President of Hockey Operations by club president, John Davidson.
But Al's contributions in the NHL, though substantial, create only part of the overall picture. MacInnis' international career has seen him represent Canada on numerous occasions, including the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics, the latter in which he contributed to a gold medal, the 1991 Canada Cup and the 1990 World Championships.
Al MacInnis - a fierce competitor with a feared slapshot.