McDonald quietly contributes to Anaheim’s winning ways

Originally published in Eishockey News in 2006

By Lucas Aykroyd

On an Anaheim Ducks team stacked with former NHL trophy winners such as Teemu Selanne, Chris Pronger, and J-S Giguere, Andy McDonald doesn’t get a lot of attention. But that’s just fine with the 29-year-old playmaking center from Stratford, Ontario.

“I don’t think it matters to the guys in the room about who gets media attention,” McDonald told Eishockey News. “It’s kind of nice sometimes to not have the following that might exist in the Canadian centres and some of the Eastern US cities. We’re winning, so everyone’s happy.”

There’s no doubt about that. Anaheim finished the month of November with an NHL-leading record of 18 wins, two losses, and six overtime defeats. For the first time ever, the Ducks are widely regarded as the Western Conference’s top Stanley Cup contender.

That’s why McDonald isn’t concerned that his personal rate of production is slightly lower than in 2005-06. Last year, his 85 points made him just the third Duck to ever eclipse the 80-point barrier (Selanne and Paul Kariya both did it five times), whereas he’d never scored more than 30 points previously.

“It was a bit of a different scenario last year,” said McDonald. “On a lot of nights, we had to come from behind. There was more of an offensive load placed on our line [featuring Selanne]. This year, we’re getting more contributions from other guys.”

Still, McDonald is thrilled to see the “Finnish Flash” on pace for close to 100 points.

“He’s always been a great player. He went through that knee injury in Colorado and everyone said, ‘Oh, he’s not the same Teemu Selanne.’ But over the last two years when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best players in the league.”

You could have said the same thing about McDonald when he suited up for Ingolstadt ERC during the NHL lockout. Zipping around like the Audis manufactured in that city, the former Colgate University scoring champion recorded 30 points in 36 games, a pace that would have ranked him among the DEL’s best if he’d played a full season.

“I had to go over there and get some confidence,” said McDonald. “It was a good situation for me. I got to play a lot at a high level of hockey. I also got to travel a bit with my wife. Certainly I would rather have been back playing in the NHL, but I took advantage of the opportunity to experience a different culture.”

One of the few bad experiences for the 178-cm, 85-kg veteran in Germany was suffering a concussion versus Hamburg due to an elbow thrown by former NHLer Darren Van Impe. Concussions have been the bane of McDonald’s career, even forcing him to miss out on Anaheim’s 2003 run to the Stanley Cup finals versus New Jersey. Not surprisingly, he has strong feelings on the subject, especially since NHLers like Trevor Letowski, Aaron Downey, and Jason Williams have been knocked out of action this year due to hits to the head.

“The first step is to recognize there’s a problem, and I think the league has done that. You don’t like to see guys hit in the head, because it’s a dangerous injury, and it can end careers. There’s nothing wrong with hard hitting, but when you see guys target the head, that’s when it gets scary. The league’s slowly taking the necessary steps. It would be nice to see them stay on top of it with fines and suspensions.”

On a lighter note, McDonald has no objections to his team’s name change for the 2006-07 campaign. The “Mighty Ducks” are no more, but the “Ducks” are looking good.

“It’s great. It came with the ownership change. We’re certainly fortunate to play with a great ownership group, and they’ve put a lot into the team, so they can call the team whatever they want!”

They might even get to call them “Stanley Cup champions” in the not-too-distant future. Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

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