I'm so ridiculously proud of him. I didn't really expect that much from him these playoffs because top lines generally get shut down and also he is 12 years old and the size of a peanut. But he actually played so well he put himselff in the running for the Conn Smythe. Concussion boy got to raise the Cup. :)
Much sweeter this time for McDonald
By David Leon Moore, USA TODAY
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The last time Andy McDonald's team went to the Stanley Cup Finals, he didn't feel the usual emotions of an athlete competing for a title.
There was excitement, sure, when his Anaheim team, then the Mighty Ducks, played into a seventh game of the 2003 Finals against the New Jersey Devils.
But there was also sadness, confusion and fear.
McDonald missed all of the 2003 playoffs with a major concussion.
If the Ducks had won Game.7, McDonald, then a 25-year-old, second-year center, would have had his name engraved on the Cup, despite not suiting up in the Finals, because he had played in more than 40 regular-season games. But, he says, it wouldn't have felt right.
"I was around the guys as much as I could be," McDonald says. "I'd be in the room and see them putting on their gear. It was tough to accept not going out on the ice with them. A lot of guys went out of their way to make me feel a part of it. But it was sort of like I was an outsider. That was hard."
Also, it was hard wondering what the future held.
"It was a tough time," he says. "I tried to come back, but it wasn't working out. At that point, I was worried about my career. I didn't know if I'd be able to come back."
That episode in his early career seemed a very long time ago as the Ducks won their first Cup Wednesday.
He finished as the Ducks' leader in playoff goals with 10, including two pretty ones in Anaheim's pivotal 3-2 road win in Game 4 and the first goal Wednesday.
He had his first career hat trick in the second round against the Vancouver Canucks.
The concussion problems he battled early in his career have not returned. Last season, playing alongside a resurgent Teemu Selanne, he had a breakout year with 34 goals and 85 points. This season, when he became an All-Star for the first time (and the fastest skater in the skills competition), he finished with 27 goals and 78 points.
"I feel pretty fortunate," he says. "Sometimes, when you have the type of head injury I had, the prognosis is not so good."
Also, sometimes a player as small as McDonald — 5-11, 185 pounds — gets tossed around the ice like a snowball.
"That's something I've dealt with my whole life," he says.
Playing with Selanne, he says, has helped tremendously.
"I've learned a lot from his attitude," he says. "We've talked a lot through the playoffs about just staying with it, not getting down when things don't go well."
Selanne is not surprised to see McDonald evolve into an NHL star.
"Three years ago, I could see the kind of tools he has," Selanne says. "I remember thinking, 'When this guy gets his confidence, he's going to be unbelievable.' His speed, skills, shooting and passing and his work ethic are amazing."
And his head, joyfully for McDonald, is clear.