While skating for the London Knights of the OHA, Basil McRae looked like a quintessential power forward who could score goals, throw checks, and win fights. In 1981, he jumped the Quebec Nordiques where, for the next six seasons, he shuttled between the minors and the majors, making stops with the Leafs and Wings as well as a second round with the Nordiques.
It wasn't until McRae signed as a free agent with the Minnesota North Stars in 1987, however, that he became an NHL regular. Landing smack in the middle of what was called the "Chuck" Norris division, McRae launched himself into a boiling pot of rivalries held within the division. With the North Stars, he became a fan favourite who racked up an average of 313 penalty minutes per season, during his five-year stint with the team.
McRae prided himself as an enforcer who always worked at improving his limited skills as a two-way player. He also played an honest game, respecting the rules whenever possible. He counts himself as a success, having lasted 16 seasons as an NHLer with throngs of critics, fans, and foes left in his path.
In 1992, McRae broke his leg and was then left unprotected in the Expansion Draft that transported him to Tampa Bay. There he broke his leg again before being shipped to St. Louis where he settled in for one final big-league run. He then put in eight games with the Blackhawks before retiring in 1996.