The Helmetless One
|6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
194 lb (88 kg)
New York Rangers
St. Louis Blues
|World Championships||2005, 2008, 2010|
|Coaching||1997-1999 New York Rangers|
1999-2009, 2012-2019 Edmonton Oilers
2011-12 Chicago Wolves
2019 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
2005, 2008, 2010, 2019-present Canadian National Team
2020-present Lausanne HC
|Born||August 15, 1958,|
London, Ontario, Canada
|NHL Draft||153rd overall, 1978|
1985 – 1997
Craig MacTavish (born August 15, 1958 in London, Ontario, Canada) is the head coach of the Lausanne HC of the NLA and of the Canadian National Team on the Spengler Cup. He is a former NHL centre who played 14 NHL seasons with the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues. He has also served as assistant coach with the Rangers and Oilers. He was known for never wearing a helmet.
Career[edit | edit source]
MacTavish is the last player in NHL history to play without a helmet. He is also remembered as the player who took the last faceoff for the New York Rangers in Game Seven of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks with 1.6 seconds remaining, to solidify the win and break the Rangers' 54-year Stanley Cup "Curse".
MacTavish played two years of NCAA hockey with the University of Massachusetts Lowell, from 1977 to 1979. He was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft with their 9th pick, 153rd overall, and spent the next several years splitting time between the Bruins and various American Hockey League teams. He finally made the Bruins for good in 1982-83 and played two full seasons with them.
MacTavish missed the 1984-85 season after being convicted of vehicular homicide, having struck and killed a young woman while he was driving under the influence of alcohol. MacTavish pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol in an accident the night of January 25, 1984 in Peabody, MA. Kim Radley, 26, of West Newfield, ME, died four days later of injuries sustained in the crash.) MacTavish spent a year in jail as punishment for this offence. While incarcerated, he did manage to watch most of the games that were televised. After MacTavish was released from prison, the Bruins, feeling he deserved a fresh start, subsequently offered to let him out of his contract. MacTavish accepted.
Widely viewed at the time as a personal favour from Edmonton general manager Glen Sather to his best friend, then-Bruins' general manager Harry Sinden, the Oilers took a chance on MacTavish and signed him for the 1985-86 season. Sather's gamble turned out to be a good one, as MacTavish spent eight full seasons with the Oilers, helping the Oilers win three Stanley Cups and serving as team captain from 1992 to 1994. MacTavish was traded to the New York Rangers in 1994, just in time to help several other former Oilers (including Adam Graves and Mark Messier) win the Stanley Cup for the Blueshirts. The next season MacTavish signed with the Philadelphia Flyers as a free agent, and was traded to the St. Louis Blues during the 1995-96 season. MacTavish retired following the 1996-97 season. He had been the last helmetless player, having begun his career before helmets became mandatory (then-current players were allowed to remain bare-headed under a grandfather clause).
MacTavish didn't leave the game, however, returning for the 1997-98 season as an assistant coach with the Rangers. After two seasons in the Big Apple, he joined the Oilers as an assistant coach in the 1999-2000 season. He was subsequently promoted to the top job after head coach Kevin Lowe moved into the general manager position.
In the 2005-06 season, MacTavish led the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Finals. In the first round of the playoffs, MacTavish shocked the hockey world by utilizing a trapping defensive system to neutralize a potent Detroit Red Wings offense. This closed defensive system, while popular in the pre-2004 lockout NHL, had been deemed by many to be unworkable under the league's new anti-obstruction regulations. The Oilers were able to deny scoring chances by blocking shots with their bodies – something for which MacTavish was known for during his playing career. This proved effective; the eighth-seeded Oilers won the opening round 4-2, against the #1 seed, the Detroit Red Wings. Along the way the Oilers defeated the San Jose Sharks and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, by scores of 4-2 and 4-1 respectively. The Oilers then lost a thrilling seven-game 2006 Stanley Cup Playoff Finals series to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Oilers had not reached the Stanley Cup Finals since 1990 – during MacTavish's playing tenure in Edmonton.
On November 4, 2006, one day after the Oilers lost to the Dallas Stars due to an apparent blown call in the last five seconds of the third period by referee Mick McGeough, MacTavish was fined $10,000 for expressing his anger after the game, referring to the call as "retarded". After this incident, Oilers fans collected over $10,000 and gave it to MacTavish, who subsequently donated the money to charity.
Coaching record[edit | edit source]
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|EDM||2000-01||82||39||28||12||3||93||2nd in Northwest||2||4||.333||Lost in 1st Round|
|EDM||2001-02||82||38||28||12||4||92||3rd in Northwest||-||-||-|
|EDM||2002-03||82||36||26||11||9||92||4th in Northwest||2||4||.333||Lost in 1st Round|
|EDM||2003-04||82||36||29||12||5||89||4th in Northwest||-||-||-||-|
|EDM||2005-06||82||41||28||-||13||95||3rd in Northwest||15||9||.625||Stanley Cup Finalist|
|EDM||2006-07||82||32||43||-||7||71||5th in Northwest||-||-||-|
|Total||475||221||176||47||32||19||18||.514||3 Playoff Appearances|
Notable achievements[edit | edit source]
- MacTavish's career NHL regular season totals include 1,093 games played, with 213 goals and 267 assists for 480 points and 891 penalty minutes.
- He played another 193 playoff games, scoring 20-38-58 with 218 PIM.
- He was most noted for his stellar defensive play and was also known as a good faceoff man.
- He won four Stanley Cups (three with the Oilers, one with Rangers) and, despite his low draft status, played in more NHL regular season games than any other player taken in his draft year.
- His teams only once failed to make the playoffs (92-93 Oilers, although the next year he played 66 games with the non-playoff Oilers).
- To many casual fans, he might be known as the guy who tore out the tongue of the opposing team's mascot (Harvey the Hound) in a 2003 game against the Calgary Flames.
- MacTavish was an All-Star player in 1996.
[edit | edit source]
|Edmonton Oilers Captains|
|Hamilton | Sather | Shmyr | Chipperfield | McDonald | Fogolin | Gretzky | Messier | Lowe | MacTavish | Corson | Buchberger | Weight | Smith | Moreau | Horcoff | Ference | McDavid|
|Edmonton Oilers Head Coaches|
|Kinasewich • Hunter • Shaw • Drake • Guidolin • Sather • Watson • Muckler • Green • Burnett • Low • Lowe • MacTavish • Quinn • Renney • Krueger • Eakins • Nelson • McLellan • Hitchcock • Tippett|