Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Jim McKenny
To a younger generation of sports fans, Jim McKenny is simply known as "Howie," the longtime sportscaster on Toronto television. The nickname is in reference to his similar appearance to that of former NHLer Howie Young. But for those old enough to remember the NHL in the late 1960's and 1970's McKenny was mainstay on the Toronto Maple Leafs defense for many years. In the mid the 1960's McKenny was rated by many NHL insiders as the second best Canadian junior prospect patrolling the blue line behind only Bobby Orr. The comparisons were primarily based on McKenny's similar strong puckhandling and skating skills, but even his most staunch supporters agreed he was never a match for Orr when it came to point production and toughness. He played three years of Junior A hockey with the Toronto Marlboros and was a member of the 1964 Memorial Cup winning squad that also boasted the likes of Pete Stemkowski, Mike Walton, Ron Ellis and goalie Gary Smith.

McKenny had been selected by the Maple Leafs in the third round of the 1963 NHL Amateur Draft, 17th overall. He first played for the Leafs at 19, when he was called up for two games in the 1965-66 season. However, it was not until the 1969-70 season that McKenny was able to crack the Leafs lineup as a full-time roster player when he dressed for 73 games, scoring eleven goals and 44 points. McKenny, known for taking many risks to promote an offensive opportunity became infamous for dangerously cutting in front of his own net with the puck, which occasionally resulted in a turnover for the opposition and a goal deposited in the Toronto net. "It drove our goalies crazy," McKenny says. "I can still hear Jacques Plante swearing at me in French behind his mask." During his lengthy stay in the minors his teammate with the Rochester Americans was Don Cherry. "We roomed together on the road and were quite a pair."

McKenny played another seven years with Toronto and was consistently one of the team's top defenders. He always enjoyed the jet setting life of a pro hockey player. "I sure loved the traveling," he said. On being compared with Bobby Orr, McKenny joked "I don't recall if they were saying I was better than or bigger than Orr. I do remember showing up for my first Leaf training camp at 215 pounds, which was about 30 pounds over my usual playing weight." McKenny was on the cast as the lead in the 1971 movie Face Off, a story about a young hockey player and his struggles, but producers eventually went with actor Art Hindle with McKenny as the on-ice double. "We were quite the pair, Hindle once remarked: "He couldn't act and I couldn't skate."

McKenny remained with the Leafs until he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars in May, 1978, not fitting in with the one-ice plans of then head coach Roger Neilson. By that time, McKenny's skills had been noticeably in decline and he lasted just ten games with the Stars before announcing his retirement. In 1979-80 McKenny coached in Switzerland and France, but returned to Toronto in the end and picked up a new career in broadcasting and is still one of the most familiar faces on Toronto television.


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1962-63 Neil McNeil Maroons MTJHL 37 5 12 17 43 10 3 3 6 10
1962-63 Neil McNeil Maroons M-Cup 6 1 1 2 8
1963-64 Toronto Marlboros OHA-Jr. 56 7 31 38 102 9 2 0 2 22
1963-64 Toronto Marlboros M-Cup 12 1 7 8 22
1964-65 Toronto Marlboros OHA-Jr. 52 7 41 48 117 19 4 15 19 43
1965-66 Toronto Marlboros OHA-Jr. 42 14 26 40 78 14 3 10 13 38
1965-66 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 2 0 0 0 2
1965-66 Rochester Americans AHL 1 0 1 1 0
1965-66 Tulsa Oilers CPHL 4 2 2 4 2
1966-67 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 6 1 0 1 0
1966-67 Tulsa Oilers CPHL 45 9 19 28 29
1966-67 Rochester Americans AHL 19 3 6 9 10 7 0 0 0 2
1967-68 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 5 1 0 1 0 -2
1967-68 Rochester Americans AHL 46 10 22 32 33 11 2 2 4 4
1968-69 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 7 0 0 0 2 +1
1968-69 Rochester Americans AHL 47 19 31 50 22
1968-69 Vancouver Canucks WHL 18 7 14 21 4 8 5 5 10 6
1969-70 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 73 11 33 44 34 -2
1970-71 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 68 4 26 30 42 +11 6 2 1 3 2
1971-72 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 76 5 31 36 27 +1 5 3 0 3 2
1972-73 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 77 11 41 52 55 +6
1973-74 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 77 14 28 42 36 +16 4 0 2 2 0
1974-75 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 66 8 35 43 31 -4 7 0 1 1 2
1975-76 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 46 10 19 29 19 -7 6 2 3 5 2
1976-77 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 76 14 31 45 36 -26 9 0 2 2 2
1977-78 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 15 2 2 4 8 +4
1977-78 Dallas Black Hawks CHL 55 21 31 52 45 13 1 6 7 8
1978-79 Minnesota North Stars NHL 10 1 1 2 2 -3
1978-79 Oklahoma City Stars CHL 33 11 23 34 10
1979-80 SC Rapperswil-Jona Swiss-2
1979-80 HC Lyon France
NHL Totals 604 82 247 329 294 37 7 9 16 10


CHL Second All-Star Team (1978) Played in NHL All-Star Game (1974) Traded to Minnesota by Toronto for cash and future considerations (the rights to Owen Lloyd, October 25, 1978), May 15, 1978.