Skip to main content

Mike Donnelly

Mike Donnelly was a classic late bloomer.

Never drafted by the NHL, Donnelly attended Michigan State University always dreaming of making it to the NHL, but realizing it might be a stretch.

And maybe it was a stretch, at least until his final season with the Spartans. In 44 games, Donnelly amassed 59 goals and 38 assists for 97 points, catching the eyes of several NHL teams. After all, his 59 goals set a new NCAA single season record. And his final goal of the season broke a 5-5 tie in the dying minutes of the NCAA championship game, giving Michigan State the NCAA title.

The Livonia, Michigan native opted to sign with the New York Rangers. Donnelly, a magnificent speedster, had a good first year of pro playing with the Rangers farm team in New Haven of the AHL. He had 27 goals and 34 assists for 61 points in 58 games. He added 1 goal and 1 assist in his first 5 game call up to the NHL.

Donnelly made the Rangers lineup from training camp the following season, but after just 17 games was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, where he played 40 games, notching 6 goals and 14 points. His stay in the Queen City was short however, as he became a regular minor leaguer with AHL Rochester. He was called up for 34 NHL games over the two year span.

Donnelly's fortunes changed in 1990-91 when he signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings. He signed with the Kings because if he was to be demoted to the minor leagues, he wanted to live and work back in New Haven. Aside from 18 games that first season, Donnelly would not see much minor league time in the early 1990s. Instead he became an important member of the Los Angeles Kings. He even earned ice time on Wayne Gretzky's left side.

It wasn't until the 1991 playoffs that Donnelly showed he could be a scorer in the NHL. Having scored just 10 times in 53 games that season, Donnelly surprised many with a 5 goal, 9 point offensive outburst in 12 playoff games. The following year the Kings were sure to give Donnelly a better opportunity to continue that scoring outburst. It worked as Donnelly achieved 29 goals and 45 points in 1991-92.

1992-93 is Donnelly's season to remember. He equaled the 29 goal performance from the previous year, but added 40 assists for a career high 69 points. He was a strong contributor in the Kings march to the Stanley Cup finals as well, scoring 6 goals and 13 points while serving as a strong penalty killer in 24 games.

Donnelly, like the Kings, came back to reality in 1993-94. Donnelly remained a valuable asset for the team, but his production level dipped to 21 goals and 42 points. Early the following season he was traded to Dallas, where he never found his game in parts of two seasons.

Injuries really slowed Donnelly in his final couple of seasons. He got into 3 games with the New York Islanders, which did make him the first player in history to skate for all three New York state teams.

Donnelly would continue on in the minors and Switzerland before retiring in the 1998 season. He had played in 465 NHL games, scoring 114 goals and 235 points.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M