It's not as though he didn't have his chances. He broke into the league as a strapping winger with the Philadelphia Flyers, and impressed everyone en route to an unsuccessful Stanley Cup finals showdown with Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers.
But it was in 1996, in perhaps his most recognizable role, that he led the Florida Panthers to the finals in 1996.
Earlier that season, Mellanby, the son of long time Hockey Night In Canada producer Ralph Mellanby, scored what teammates would call a rat trick, killing a rat in the Florida locker room on the same night he scored two goals. From that moment on, Florida fans would cover the ice with plastic rats any time the Panthers would score a goal. It became an international story when Mellanby and the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup finals.
He called those days the best memories he had in his NHL career.
"People still remind me of that. A kid came up to me outside during the All-Star game in Boston, and said 'Hey you're the rat guy,'" Mellanby said. "I have great memories of that and that team."Mellanby, as I posted yesterday about Trevor Linden, is a class act and a true hockey warrior. He is one of those guys that never was a true superstar, and therefore it is possible history will not remember him as the great player he was.
I will have to make sure to add his biography to Legends of Hockey this summer.