After making the successful transition from hockey player to broadcaster, Peter McNab’s contributions to the game on and off the ice will be recognized Dec. 9 when he is inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
During his NHL playing career, which spanned parts of 14 seasons with four teams, McNab helped his clubs to Stanley Cup Playoff appearances 10 times, including a trip to the 1975 Stanley Cup Final with Buffalo.
McNab played three seasons at the University of Denver and helped the Pioneers to three top-four NCAA finishes. In his final season, McNab led the Pioneers to an NCAA runner-up finish and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and was First-Team All-WCHA.
After college, McNab led the Cincinnati Swords of the AHL with 73 points despite playing in just 49 of the team’s 76 games. He also debuted with the Buffalo Sabres that season.
McNab skated with the Sabres over the next two years, tallying 99 points in 132 regular-season games. He helped Buffalo to the Stanley Cup Final in 1974-75.
The center spent the next eight years of his NHL career with the Boston Bruins, helping the team to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven of his eight campaigns. McNab earned a spot in the 1997 NHL All-Star Game.
McNab concluded his NHL career playing two seasons in Vancouver and two seasons with New Jersey.
He played for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 1986 IIHF Men’s World Championship.
McNab transitioned into broadcasting following his playing days, including eight years as a color analyst for the New Jersey Devils. He was hired by the Colorado Avalanche in their inaugural season in 1995 and is now in his 26th year with the team.
McNab talked about his career and forthcoming HOF enshrinement in a Q&A session with USAHockey.com.
USAHockey.com: What does it mean to you to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame?
Peter McNab: I just never, ever expected it. At first, it was almost shocking. It is cool. I suppose you’re always going to be tied together with the guys that you are going in with. To go in with Paul [Holmgren] and Stan Fischler was just … special. For them to pick me, I was truly, truly humbled.
USAH: Your road in hockey growing up went through San Diego. How did that impact you and your career growing up?
PM: If I was going to be a hockey player, that was not the place to be. There was not a whole lot of hockey going on in San Diego. My first two years there, our home rink was 140-by-60, and we played 30 games, 30 practices, and that was it. And it just started to grow. People that were there just put everything into making hockey something that the kids could play. We had a lot of people who didn’t even have kids in the program, and they were doing great stuff. Then we had a full sheet of ice come in, and that kind of changed things. It just grew. I was very blessed with all the people that put in all that time and all that effort so that I could keep playing.
USAH: Now, we see hockey in “non-traditional” markets where we may not have in the past. How have you seen the sport grow around the country?
PM: The No. 1 thing … it is a great sport. It truly is. It’s so much fun to play. The game itself is a really good game. It’s a tremendous game, and I think that’s what keeps pushing it forward. When you played it, you wanted to get involved.
USAH: You represented the U.S. on the Men’s National Team. What was it like to wear the USA sweater?
PM: It turned out to be one of those super highlights of my little career. There were a lot of guys back then that didn’t want to go. So, we had a lot of collegiate players and a few NHL players and American Hockey League players. It was a great group of guys, absolutely great group of guys. Let me tell you, there was some talent on that team — Brett Hull, Tony Granato, Mike Richter. These are A-1 hockey players. I think we finished sixth, but you could not have had a better time with a group of athletes.
USAH: How do you think your college career helped you prepare for your NHL career?
PM: If it hadn’t been for the college career, there would have been no NHL career. I was coming from San Diego, and the coach of the team, Murray Armstrong, said to my dad, “Well, listen, if your son wants to play, we can get him a half scholarship for baseball and a half scholarship for hockey.” I said “fine.” There was eight of us that came in together. Seven of them went on to play at least a game or two in the National Hockey League. And back then, that was a pretty big deal.
USAH: What was the transition like from playing to broadcasting?
PM: You’re not sure. Your words don’t necessarily come around. But the owner of the team, Dr. John McMullen, and my dad were really good friends. You can’t even imagine how naïve I was to think that, oh, this is what happens all the time. You quit and you get Gary Thorne and Stan Fischler as the two people that you’re going to broadcast with. And they were fantastic. They could not have treated me any better. That’s kind of how I got started. It was almost perfect.
USAH: What has been the biggest piece of advice that you received throughout your career?
PM: I’ll tell you the broadcasting one. It was absolutely hilarious. Remember [retired Chicago White Sox broadcaster] Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson? Gary [Thorne] is a good buddy of his. Gary invites me to a game at Shea Stadium. And I go to the game, and Hawk is there. And I knew Hawk a little bit — not real well — but knew Hawk a little bit from his days in Boston and my days in Boston. He was kind of a cranky, old dude. That’s just Hawk. And I walked up to him, and I said … you got any advice for me?
“Yeah, if they win, you sound good, and if they lose, you sound stupid.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.