Speedy Dave McLlwain was a well travelled hockeyist. The Seaforth, Ontario native played in over 500 National Hockey League games with six teams – two of which he toiled with on two different occasions.
Dave enjoyed a successful junior hockey career in the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers and North Bay Centennials. In his final year of junior he scored 46 goals and 119 points and represented Canada at the World Junior Championships. The following season, 1987-88, Dave would make the Pittsburgh Penguins and enjoyed an 11 goal, 19 point rookie season. However he would suffer the sophomore jinx in 1988-89 and spent most of the year tearing up the minor leagues.
A summer time trade saw the lean Dave head to Winnipeg with Randy Cunneyworth and Rick Tabaracci in exchange for Jim Kyte, Andrew McBain and Randy Gilhen. Dave responded very positively, scoring a career high 25 goals and 51 points in a full 80 games. However it wasn’t his offense that would become his trademark. Rather his speed and faceoff abilities made him a good role player and penalty killer. He enthusiastically hustled on every shift, and while he wasn’t overly big he had an element of scrappiness. Dave never came close to reproducing the offensive success he found in that 1989-90 season. In 1990-91 he slumped to 14 goals and 25 points.
In 1991-92 Dave learned to live out of a hotel room as he became a member of the rare club of players who played with 4 different NHL teams in one season. Just 3 games into the season the Jets traded Dave to Buffalo in a trade which also saw Gord Donnelly come to Buffalo in exchange for Darrin Shannon, Mike Hartman and Dean Kennedy. However Dave’s stay in Buffalo was very short and just as unmemorable as he donned the Blue and Gold Sabres jerseys for just 5 lonely games. He was subsequently included in the huge trade which saw Pierre Turgeon leave to Long Island in exchange for Pat Lafontaine. Dave played well in 54 games with the Isles but wouldn’t finish the season in New York. The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired his playing rights at the trading deadline.
Like so many Ontario boys, Dave achieved a childhood dream by donning the Maple Leafs’ blue jersey. He would spend a full season in Toronto before he would join the Ottawa Senators in 1993. He would enjoy relative stability in the Canadian national capital as he spent parts of 3 seasons in Ottawa before returning to Pittsburgh in 1996. A brief appearance with the Islanders in 1996-97 effectively ended his NHL career, however he continued to play professional hockey – first in the minor leagues before discovering professional hockey in Germany and Switzerland.
Dave played in a total of 501 NHL games, collecting 100 goals and 107 assists for 207 points. His speed and defensive consciousness attracted interest from several NHL employers, however his shortcomings in other areas of his game forced him to keep the change-of-address cards handy at all times.
Read more at Greatest Hockey Legends: Dave McLlwain
Category: Jets Biographies