The Chicago Blackhawks selected big, rugged defenseman Ryan McGill in round two of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, 29th overall. Many NHL teams were impressed by McGill's defensive abilities and his willingness to protect teammates was also a valuable attribute.
McGill began his junior career with the Lethbridge Broncos when he was 16. The franchise relocated to Swift Current in 1986-87 and boasted such big names as Joe Sakic and Sheldon Kennedy. Going into his third year McGill was traded to the Medicine Hat Tigers, who were the defending Memorial Cup champions. He certainly added some much needed muscle on defense and was an instrumental force in helping the Tigers gain their second consecutive Memorial Cup victory in 1988 when they defeated the Windsor Spitfires 7-6 in the championship finale. McGill returned for his last year of junior eligibility in 1988-89, but the Tigers failed in their bid to win a third successive national title.
McGill spent several years in the minors before finally getting the chance to play for the Blackhawks in the NHL when he was called up for nine games during the 1991-92 season. He was traded to the Quebec Nordiques in March, 1991 but was sent back to the Blackhawks in September. Chicago clearly had no long-term plans for McGill in their lineup and traded him again in February, 1992 to the Philadelphia Flyers. He played parts of three seasons with the Flyers, where his rough-and-tumble playing style was much to the liking of the boisterous Philadelphia fans.
In March, 1995 McGill was traded to the Edmonton Oilers but lasted just eight games. On April 5, 1995 he suffered a career-ending eye injury in a game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Soon after retiring as a player, McGill took an interest in coaching and landed a job with the WHL's Edmonton Ice in 1996. The franchise relocated to Kootenay in 1998 where McGill remains the team's head coach. In 2001-02 he led the Ice to the WHL championship and a trip to the Memorial Cup in Guelph, Ontario.