As an avid hockey fan, I recall hearing from afar the playoff scoring exploits of one Bill McDougall of the Cape Breton Oilers in 1993. Over a six week period, consisting of 16 games he fired 26 goals and 26 assists for an incredible 52 points. This very well could have been the greatest playoff performance ever. In addition, the Oilers won the Calder Cup AHL championship that season going 14 and 2 along the way. McDougall scored at least one point in each game of the playoffs, he scored at least two points in 14 of the 16 games and at least three points in 10 of the 16 games. Read that last line again.
Using newspaper articles from The Halifax Daily News and The Edmonton Journal, I have managed to put together a game by game record of this amazing stretch of games.
McDougall actually got better in each of the first three rounds, scoring 3.0 points per game in round one, 4.0 points per game in round two, and 4.5 points per game in the two game round three. During the final round, he fell to a merely excellent 2.4 points per game. Overall, his 52 points in 16 games is an average of 3.25 per match. He had a hand in over 61 percent of Cape Breton’s playoff goals.
At this point in his career, McDougall was playing for a contract, (as he was most of the time). He was turning 27 that summer and believed he deserved an honest crack at the NHL. He had been up for a cup of coffee with Edmonton at the end of the season scoring 3 points in 4 games. Following his 52 point playoff, Glen Sather, who finally did attend the last three games of the final, said of him, “He handles the puck, he sees everybody…he made a lot of things happen.” Slats wasn’t impressed enough to offer the one-way contract that McDougall coveted. He had a standing offer to play the following season in Zurich, Switzerland for $100,000 tax free. However, when Tampa Bay offered him a two year contract he jumped.
In the Lightning’s first game of 1993-94, McDougall scored two goals and an assist. This would prove to be the high point of his NHL experience. Apparently, coach Terry Crisp was not a fan of his and the ice time dwindled. McDougall went down to the IHL’s Atlanta Knights and won yet another minor league championship. This year he scored a still impressive 19 points in 14 playoff games. In the end, he had tallied 3 goals and 3 assists for Tampa Bay in 22 regular season games and they bought him out of the final year of his contract.
That was it for Bill McDougall in North American professional hockey. He would star for the following nine years in Europe playing in Italy, Germany and Switzerland even winning a few Spengler Cups with team Canada. He would end his career playing senior hockey in southern Ontario with the Dundas McCoys. As of the start of the 2008-09 season, Bill McDougall is in his first year as head coach of the Milton IceHawks in the Ontario Tier 2 circuit.
Can we honestly compare Bill McDougall’s exploits in the AHL to that of some of the greatest scorers in hockey history? Although this was the AHL, and his playoff opposition was in the form of goalies Fredric Chabot, Damian Rhodes, Mike Maneluk and Olaf Kolzig; Rhodes and Kolzig both went on to future success in the NHL. The fact that this was a successful championship run, as well as McDougall’s far superior playoff dominance rating, I believe make McDougall’s efforts the most impressive in the game’s history.