Many children have begun skating and playing hockey before they've even begun attending school. Sadly, Brian MacLellan was not one of those children. While his friends were skating, MacLellan was in a leg brace, hampered by Legg Perthes disease, a condition that effects the hip joint. Doctors later recommended that hockey just might help the young MacLellan. The combination of exercise and the cool, moist arena air might improve the condition, doctors posited, so MacLellan joined a house league team in Guelph and began his hockey career--several years behind the progress of his friends.
MacLellan worked intensely on his game, and the hip never troubled him again. By the time he was playing high school hockey, he was a dominant player and had sprouted to a power forward's 6'3". Scouts from U.S. colleges were impressed, and after many offers, he chose to attend Ohio's Bowling Green University. During all four of his years at Bowling Green, MacLellan was chosen to the All-American team. Still, he was ignored in the NHL Entry Draft each year of his eligibility.
MacLellan was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Kings in 1982, playing eight games that season. The next two years, on a line with Marcel Dionne, MacLellan scored 25 and 31 goals, respectively. But mid-way through his fourth season in L.A., MacLellan was traded with a draft choice to the New York Rangers for Grant Ledyard and Rollie Melanson in December 1985.
New York didn't work out for Brian MacLellan. Coach Ted Sator wanted MacLellan to use his size for a more aggressive game--something that MacLellan was uncomfortable doing. The Rangers' coaching staff gave up on the winger, and MacLellan was dealt to Minnesota for a third-round draft choice before training camp in 1986. The North Stars were able to tap MacLellan's potential, and he responded with an outstanding season in 1986-87, scoring 32 goals and adding 31 assists.
Although very comfortable in Minnesota, MacLellan was blessed with a little good fortune. With twelve games remaining in the 1988-89 season, he was traded to the Calgary Flames to shore up their playoff drive. It worked. Brian MacLellan and the Flames won the Stanley Cup that season. After two full seasons in Calgary, MacLellan was sent to the Detroit Red Wings during the summer of 1991, and he retired at the end of the 1991-92 season. For a young boy unable to join his friends at play, Brian MacLellan enjoyed a most remarkable career.