“I started the season centering for Donnie (Saleski) and Davey (Schultz). Nothing against them, but we wouldn’t score a lot of goals. Then Freddie (Shero) put me with Ross Lonsberry and Dorney (Gary Dornhoefer). Playing on our second line gave me a chance to prove myself. They have experience and tell me if I’m doing things wrong.”
MacLeish’s line finished as one of the highest scoring trios with 229 points. The Bobby Clarke-Bill Flett-Bill Barber threesome topped them with 242 points, giving the Flyers two bonafide scoring lines for the first time.
Teammates just shake their heads in admiring disbelief at MacLeish’s relaxed approach.
“I told him he’s been in a daze all season,” said Dornhoefer as the Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup semifinals against Montreal. “When he’s out there killing penalties with me I have no idea what he’s going to do–and neither does he.”
MacLeish’s most successful maneuver would include carrying the puck over the blueline, swerving to center ice and flicking a wrist shot that usually startled and beat the goalie. MacLeish parlayed that wrist shot into two four goal games, one three goal game and eight two-goal games.
“I didn’t use the wrist shot until my last year of junior,” MacLeish recalled. “My coach, Roger Neilson, told me to forget the slapshot and I have. Even in practices I work only with the wrist shot.”
MacLeish played in 26 NHL games in 70-71, and another 17 games in 71-72. He blossomed in 72-73 to go 50-50-100 and was an impact player on the Flyer’s teams that won the Stanley in 1974 (17gp, 13-9-22 in playoffs) and 1975 (17gp, 11-9-20). He scored the goal that won the Stanley in 1974.
His 1976 injury (knee, Feb 1976) cost him a third straight stellar playoffs and had a major impact on the Flyers’ playoff that spring.