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Ex-Red Wings forward McKenney dead at 88

McKenney led the NHL in assists in 1959-60

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Don McKenney ex-Red Wings

Don McKenney endured a time with the Detroit Red Wings that was brief and unsuccessful. His NHL, though, certainly was the opposite.

McKenney, who died recently at the age of 88, was a stellar performer who scored 20 goals in seven different NHL seasons. However, he tallied just once in 24 games for Detroit during the 1965-66 season.

Don McKenney ex-Red Wings

Acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs for the $30,000 waiver price in the summer of 1965, McKenney was among several NHL veterans brough in that season by Wings coach-GM Sid Abel. Forwards Andy Bathgate, Billy Harris and Dean Prentice and defenseman Leo Boivin were among the other addiitons.

Able was envisioning slotting McKenney on the left wing of Detroit’s top line alongside Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio.

Things didn’t go according to plan, though. McKenney ended up suffering a serious heel injury in early November of 1965 that left him out of the lineup for quite some time. Upon returning to action, he was relegated to fourth-line duty with Pit Martin and Paul Henderson. Eventually, he found himself a seat in the press box.

The 1965-66 campaign saw him finishing with 1-6-7 totals in 24 games for Detroit. His lone goal came in a 5-3 loss at Toronto on Dec. 18, 1965. Just a couple of weeks later on Jan. 2, 1966, he was assigned to the AHL Pittsburgh Hornets.

McKenney A Solid NHLer

Though Detroit didn’t get the best of McKenney, when he was on top of his game he had few peers in the NHL. Breaking in with the Boston Bruins, McKenney led the NHL with 49 assists in 1959-60. He won the Lady Byng Trophy that season. The season prior, he was a 32-goal scorer for Boston.

McKenney played in two Stanley Cup finals with Boston (1956-57, 1957-58) and one with St. Louis (1967-68). He wound up earning his lone Stanley Cup title with the Maple Leafs in 1963-64. They beat the Wings in a seven-game final series.

Following his playing days, he coached college hockey with the Northeastern Huskies.

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