Monday, October 24, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Jamie McLennan

While we seem to have a lot of commentators that have been AGMs in the past, this week's has only recently taken that step in his career. After dealing with the highs of junior success, to the fear of dying in the off-season, to the rejuvenation of his career, finally settling in with being a back-up to work horse goalies, this week's inductee has been through it all. This week, the career of Jamie McLennan.

McLennan started off by playing in the Alberta Jr. League for the Saint Albert Royals in the 1987-88 season before moving to the WHL in the 1988-89 season, first for 11 games with the Spokane Chiefs before getting traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, where he would play for seven games. The 1989-90 season had McLennan in 34 appearances and would respond well to the added time, going 20-4-2 in those games, then sporting a 6-5 playoff record in 13 games. McLennan would take the starting role in the 1990-91 season, playing in 56 games and finishing with a 32-18-4 record, then lead Lethbridge to the WHL Finals with a 8-8 record in the playoffs. McLennan would win the Del Wilson Trophy for top goaltender in the WHL.

After that season, the New York Islanders selected McLennan in the third round of the NHL Draft. That 1991-92 season saw McLennan start out in the ECHL with the Richmond Renegades, playing 32 games and going 16-12-2, while also playing in 18 games with the AHL's Capital Distrcit Islanders, going 4-10-2 in those match-ups. The 1992-93 season had McLennan staying with Capital District and appearing in 38 games with a 17-14-6 record to show for his efforts.

For the 1993-94 season, McLennan split his time between the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the IHL for 24 games (8-12-2), as well as getting into 22 games in the NHL with the Islanders, finishing with a 8-7-6 record. The 1994-95 season had McLennan in the Islanders line-up for 22 games after the lockout happened, going 6-11-2; but would spend the last part of the season with the IHL's Denver Grizzlies, going 3-0-1 in four regular season games, then going 8-2 in 11 playoff games, helping the Grizzlies win the Turner Cup. The 1995-96 season was a whirlwind for McLennan, playing on Long Island for 13 games (3-9-1), then 14 for the Utah Grizzlies in the IHL (9-2-2), then 22 for the AHL's Worcester Ice Cats (14-7-1), but it would be the off-season that would really make things interesting for McLennan.

While on his way back from Salt Lake City, Utah to his home in Edmonton, Alberta; he stopped in Lethbridge, Alberta to visit family. While in Lethbridge, McLennan got sick and went to the hospital thinking he had the flu. However, on further testing, it turned out McLennan had contracted bacterial meningitis and, had he not been treated, would have died. After spending a week in intensive care and on a heavy dose of antibiotics, he was released in good health.

Yet, the Islanders didn't re-sign McLennan, which allowed the St. Louis Blues to pick him up in the summer of 1996. The 1996-97 season had McLennan in the AHL with the Worcester Ice Cats, playing in 39 games with an 18-13-4 finishing record, then going 2-2 in the playoffs. McLennan was able to make the Blues' roster in the 1997-98 season, backing up Grant Fuhr, and playing in 30 games with a 16-8-2 record to show. Coming back that season allowed McLennan to win the Bill Masterton Trophy for dedication and perseverance to the sport of hockey. The 1998-99 season saw McLennan play in 33 games with the Blues, but finished with a 13-14-4 record, while he would only get 19 games in the 1999-2000 season, finishing with a 9-5-2 record.

With the Expansion Draft, McLennan was picked up by the Minnesota Wild, where he would play in 38 games, but would go a dismal 5-23-9. Due to that season, McLennan was sent to the AHL's Houston Aeros for the 2001-02 season, where he would go 25-18-4 in 51 games.

During the 2002 Draft, McLennan was traded to the Calgary Flames for a ninth-round pick. McLennan in the 2002-03 season went 2-11-4 in 22 games for the Flames that first year. The 2003-04 season was better in Calgary for McLennan, who went 12-9-3 in 26 games. McLennan was traded to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline that year with Blair Betts and Greg Moore for Chris Simon, while McLennan would only play four games with a 1-3-0 record.

When the lockout happened in the 2004-05 season, McLennan went to Great Britain to play with the Guildford Flames for three games, winding up with a 2-1-0 record to show in the regular season, then a 4-3 record in seven playoff games.

When the NHL returned in the 2005-06 season, McLennan signed with the Florida Panthers, where he would be behind Roberto Luongo for the season, only seeing 17 games during the season finishing with a 2-4-2 record.

McLennan signed with the Calgary Flames again for the 2006-07, where he would only play in nine games, finishing with a 3-5-1 record. However, how he ended his NHL career was memorable. McLennan was in a playoff game for the Flames against the Red Wings for 18 seconds-- in which he slashed Johan Franzen in the stomach, for which he was suspended five games. He would not play in the NHL again.

The 2007-08 season had McLennan go overseas, first having a five week stint with Russian Elite League's Metallurg Magnitogorsk, then going to play with the Nippon Paper Cranes of the Asian Hockey League, where he would appear in 17 games before retiring.

Post playing career, McLennan was a goaltending and assistant coach for the Calgary Flames for a couple of season, but would move onto the media world in 2010-- first writing a column for The Hockey News, then moving on the NHL on TSN staff.

He's been up, he's been down, and he faced death-- but the man they call "Noodles" always took things light-heartedly and was a guy who was upbeat according to his teammates. His personality helped him get jobs in the league, as well as now in the media side of things.


Paul said...

I will always remember McLennan for his slash on Johan Franzen during the 2006 playoffs when the Flames were playing the Wings.

Craig said...

The only thing worse than watching him in goal for the Wild, is watching him on On The Fly without a mask.