When compiling a list like this countdown and going back through the history books, one finds all sorts of interesting information. Today's entry certainly fits that description. As someone who wasn't introduced to the wonderful world of hockey until 1990, there are parts of the history of the game that are still wonderfully unknown to me. Looking through the numbers to find the greatest to don the number 15 in Coyote franchise history, it was amazing to discover who deserved the honor.
There have been a number of players to proudly wear the number 15 as a member of the Jets or Coyotes. Pat Elynuik was an effective score for the Jets from 1987 through '92 who could never replicate that success with another team. Radoslav Suchy was another in a proud line of Czechs to suit up for the Coyotes as a sturdy, stay at home defenseman for 5 seasons in the early aughts. Matthew Lombardi was speedy center whom the Coyotes got from Calgary, along with the draft pick that would turn into Brandon Gormley, for Olli Jokinen (snicker) who spent parts of three different seasons with the Yotes, most remembered for being a huge part of the first Tippett team in '09-'10. Lastly, you have the last wearer of the number, the Slayer of SlapShots himself, Boyd Gordon. While effective players in their own rights, none come close to being the best 15 in team history.
That honor belongs to the one, the only, Paul MacLean. Yes, this guy:
While now best known for sporting one of the most glorious mustaches in the sports world behind the bench of the Ottawa Senators, MacLean was one of the best players in Jets history during the 80's. Acquired after only ever playing one game for the St. Louis Blues on July 3, 1981, MacLean would become an instant impact player for the Jets, scoring 36 goals and 61 points the first season after the trade in '81-82. That was only the tip of the iceberg for MacLean, who would spend the next 6 seasons in the Frozen North, averaging 35 goals and 76 points per season in that time. He wasn't afraid to mix it up either, as evidenced here and here as well. In fact, MacLean had over 100 PIMs in each of his first 4 seasons as a Jet. He was an All-Star in the '84-'85 season and three times finished in the top ten in the league in powerplay goals (ninth in both '83 and '85 along with 3rd in '88). He would be traded to Detroit after the conclusion of the 1988 season for Brent Ashton.
The Walrus, as he's affectionately known, currently sits in the top 10 in many franchise offensive categories. His 527 games played as a Jet is currently ninth, his 248 goals are 5th, his 270 assists are 6th and his total of 518 points currently sits 6th on the list. MacLean's 726 PIM's are tied for ninth on the franchise's all time list, he's tied with Radim Vrbata for seventh in team history in game winning goals with 24 and his 97 powerplay goals are 4th best in the team annals. His 125 career powerplay goals is 81 all time in NHL history. He's currently the 55th best all time in goals per game at .45 and his career shooting percentage of 21.3 is third best in the history of the league.
MacLean is clearly the greatest to ever wear the number 15 in Coyotes franchise history. I would never have guessed that upon starting this countdown. MacLean now spends his time as the head coach of the Ottawa Senators and in the summers dons a white shirt and beret and appears on Mythbusters as Jaime Hyneman. The last part of that sentence may not be factual.