Center was dynamic playmaker who could score with anyone
By Blake Sebring, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, January 02, 2017 6:00 PM
When the greatest Komet of all-time was asked how Terry McDougall would fit into today's hockey, Len Thornson said, "He was as good as anybody who ever played around here."
Which is why McDougall will have his number 19 added to Fort Wayne's retired banners during pre-game ceremonies Saturday night.
When the Des Moines Capitals folded in 1975, the Komets picked up McDougall in the dispersal draft and his career took off. McDougall had one of the most remarkable careers of any Komet, scoring 649 points in 507 regular-season games, or 1.2 per game. What's even more remarkable is that he was even better in the postseason, averaging 1.39 points on 96 points in 69 playoff games as a Komet. He was inducted into the Komets Hall of Fame in 2007.
McDougall was a Komet from 1975 to 1982. He led the International Hockey League in 1978-79 with 57 goals and tied the franchise record with Thornson for most points in a season with 139. He also set the Komet record for most points in a ppstseason with 25 (in only 13 games). McDougall was honored with the team's most valuable player award three times, and he's fourth all-time in points behind Thornson, Long and Colin Chaulk. He's 11th all-time in games played wearing a Komets jersey.
Those numbers are unheard of in today's game.
"I think he'd be very refreshing for today's audience," said retired banner member Rob Laird, who is the Los Angeles Kings senior scout. "You don't see a lot of plays being made out there in comparison to what you used to. I think the coaches are a little bit responsible for that for dumbing down the play. They want you to be safe, throw the puck up the wall and the game isn't as exciting to watch. The beauty of hockey to me is when you are bringing the puck up the ice with three or four passes in succession, and today you are lucky to see two passes before the puck is throw into the zone or turned over.
Laird and McDougall were best friends off the ice, and that connection also helped them on the ice, first as linemates with D'Arcy Keating and then with Al Dumba. Along with Dumba, they formed the Western Union Line in 1978-79, combining for 148 goals and 357 points. Grand Rapids coach Moe Bartoli said they could have played together at any level.
"Al and Robbie have a lot to do with my number being retired," McDougall said. "It was a matter of how many we were going to get every game. That was a special few years there. I don't know why, but we just clicked."
Despite the numbers, McDougall never got a chance to move up, mostly because of his lack of size at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds and admittedly some of his off-ice activities, saying players partied and burned the candle at both ends more back then. In 1982 he was traded with defenseman Bob Phillips to Flint for Mike Clarke, Brian Keates, Bruno Baseotto and John Cibbs. It was possibly the most-controversial trade in Komets history, but McDougall found a home in Flint and stayed there after he retired in 1983.
Now he's a little nervous about Saturday's ceremony, but his 21-year-old daughter will be in attendance and will get a chance to understand what kind of player her father was before she was born.
"Young people aren't going to know who the heck I am," the 63-year-old said. "Hockey seems like a lifetime ago. It's a reminder of who I actually was.
"One of the things I'm going to say is how I loved Fort Wayne. I knew nothing about Indiana when I came there, but I was sad to leave. I loved living in Fort Wayne, let alone playing hockey there, especially as a state that loves their basketball, but to me Fort Wayne is hockey. When I was done in Flint I was going to go back there, but I ended up getting a job in Flint."
Now he'll have a home here forever.
For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.