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September 05, 2015

John McLellan

John McLellan only a brief appearance on the ice in the National Hockey League, He had a long career in hockey, full of championship victories.

He starred with St. Mikes as a junior, winning a Memorial Cup championship in 1947.

He then graduated to play senior hockey with the Toronto Marlies, winning the Allan Cup in 1950.

McLellan turned pro for the 1950-51 season. He would play in the American Hockey League for eight seasons, winning the Calder Cup in 1952 and 1955.

Along the way McLellan was brought in his hometown Maple Leafs to appear in his only two NHL games.

McLellan retired in 1958 and regained his amateur status. He would play senior hockey with the Belleville McFarlands, scoring a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over Russia in the 1959 World Championships. Add a gold medal all those silver trophies he's won.

McLellan turned to the world of coaching and managing soon after. He gained quick success by coaching Tulsa to the Adams Cup as champions of the Central Hockey League.

McLellan finally made the NHL when the Leafs hired him as head coach for the 1969-70 season, replacing Punch Imlach. The Leafs missed the playoffs that first year, but led the Leafs to the post-season in each of the following two years, only to be eliminated in round one. The Hockey News even named McLellan as their coach of the year in 1971.

During the 1971-72 season McLellan  was actually hospitalized with ulcers. He would resign as coach in 1973, replaced by Red Kelly.

Coaching is not an easy profession by any means, though he kept a good attitude about it.

"Sure it's tough, but working in a gold mine is no picnic either," he said.

The Leafs retained McLellan as an assistant general manager, aiding Jim Gregory. He worked a lot with the prospects on the farm team in Oklahoma City and scouting the Leafs future opponents.

McLellan passed away in 1979, at the far too young age of 51. He had a massive heart attack while raking leaves.

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