“I told him the story and said, ‘they gave me your number and your gloves and all this other kind of stuff and the one thing I’m pissed off about Steve is that you didn’t leave any talent in the gloves. I have very poor hands I guess.”
Petes alumnus Kevin MacDonald recalls a conversation he had with fellow Pete Steve Yzerman at a gym in Ottawa, years after he inherited the Hall of Famer’s number 19.
“Dick Todd and Jacques Martin were the coaches at the time and when I got there they were mulling things around and they said, ‘We want to sign you but we want to sign you to a junior B card but you’ll be with the team the whole time.’
“I said I didn’t want to do that, ‘You either want me or you don’t.’”
The Prescott native was drafted by the Belleville Bulls in 1982 and traded to the Sudbury Wolves shortly into his first OHL season, landing in Peterborough after five games.
“They said, ‘We only have one spot left and it’s for Steve Yzerman if he ever comes back’ and they thought about it and they said, ‘Who are we kidding, Steve Yzerman is never coming back.’”
MacDonald chuckled as he reflected on the circumstances that allowed the defenceman to play four seasons for the Petes from 1983 to 1987. He was notorious for his physical presence, tallying 555 penalty minutes while with the organization.
In his final year, MacDonald roomed with a rookie with a reputation for his physical game: Tie Domi.
MacDonald’s impact on Domi went beyond ensuring he learned his way around a kitchen. It was a conversation between the vet and rookie that ultimately dictated Tie’s future.
“There was also a time when me and my landlord and Tie were in the basement sitting on the deep freeze and he was thinking about going home.
“I remember sitting and talking him through it and telling him, ‘There’s no better place to play hockey than in Peterborough. Whether you make it in hockey or not you are going to come out with an education and be better off.’”
Domi of course would go on to complete three seasons with the Petes and become one of the most legendary Toronto Maple Leafs of all time.
MacDonald meant what he said to his roommate and still points to the timeless values he inherited skating at the Memorial Centre as reason for his current success.
“The habits you get into when you are playing hockey there (Peterborough) and going to school and the camaraderie developed, lasts a lifetime. It gives you a lot of things to make you successful later in life.
“The competitiveness with each other, setting goals and discipline. Having to go run out in the country five miles before school then go to practice up until Christmas, all the while maintaining good grades in school, I think that was part of it as well.”
The Petes alumnus sustains gratitude for former teammates including Kris King, Mark Teevens, Larry Shaw and Terry Carkner who helped him to develop these profound habits.
Once MacDonald graduated from the Petes he started attending St. Thomas University, in Fredericton, N.B. The East Coast hockey hub afforded him the opportunity to practise with the AHL’s Fredericton Express and eventually be seen and signed by the IHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks.
“I left school and won a championship my first year in the minors.”
MacDonald would go on to play three seasons with the IHL’s Phoenix Roadrunners and Fort Wayne Komets, a single year with the AHL’s P.E.I. Senators, be the first player signed by the IHL’s Chicago Wolves and win a Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears in 1997. He was the head coach of the Bakersfield Condors of the WCHL from 1998 to 2001.
Today, MacDonald resides in Orange County, California and owns his own commercial construction company.
“I worked for some friends who had a construction company and I guess I got my on-the-site MBA.”
MacDonald attributes the invaluable traits instilled in him while playing in Peterborough that has allowed him to have success at every point along his life.
“I learned a lot from those pivotal years from 16 to 20 of goal setting to discipline, how to be 10 minutes early to everything and stay late. All those kinds of habits rubbed off and helped me be successful today.”