December 09, 2015

Sid McNabney

As of 2015 there have been 25 players in National Hockey League history who played their only NHL games in the playoffs. That's right - they somehow were good enough to play in the Stanley Cup post-season but never in the NHL regular season.

Most of these players were one or two game emergency fill-ins.

But which player played the most Stanley Cup playoff games without ever playing in the NHL regular season?

That honour is shared by two players who both played in five playoff games: Sid McNabney of the 1951 Montreal Canadiens and Leo Thiffault of the 1968 Minnesota North Stars.

Sid McNabney was a junior star with the Barrie Flyers, who were back-to-back Memorial Cup finalists in 1948 and 1949. He was a second year pro by 1951, having scored 70 points in as many games with the AHL's Buffalo Bisons.

Montreal called McNabney up during the playoffs as Elmer Lach had suffered an injury. Likewise, Paul Masnick, a bit player for Montreal in the regular season, was dressed because of an injury to Boom Boom Geoffrion.

Neither Lach or Geoffrion missed any games that playoffs, but their lack of offensive production suggested they were not 100%. Masnick dressed in all 11 games, scoring two goals and one assist. McNabney dressed for five games, rarely seeing the ice, though he did collect one assist.

Montreal would lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup finals.

McNabney disappeared after that. He struggled upon his return to Buffalo the next season, and was off to Syracuse in 1952-53 for what proved to be his final season in pro hockey.

Just four years later McNabney passed away from cancer. He was just 28 years old.

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