The familiar moustache is faded from its old ginger to a bouquet of gold and gray, but it is still untamed in its glory and as dense as a James Joyce novel. Lanny McDonald has carried this tangle above his upper lip for 35 years, having spurned offers from razor companies to shave it. But like McDonald himself, the 'stache has never been for sale. There are things more important than money to this Hall of Fame winger, who believes in life, liberty and the hirsute of happiness.
According to the dictates of playoff hockey, McDonald's moustache flourished into a luxuriant beard in 1989. The Flames' two-month odyssey had carried them to a 3--2 lead over the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals, but McDonald mostly had been along for the ride. The then 36-year-old, who had 500 goals in his 16-year career, appeared in only two of the first five finals matches. He had no idea if he would be playing in the potentially decisive Game 6 in Montreal until 10 minutes before puck drop, when Calgary assistant coach Doug Risebrough called him into the trainer's room and asked, "Remember how the power play works?"
With the score 1--1 in the second period, McDonald came out of the penalty box after a hooking minor—"As a good Catholic boy, I said 200 Hail Marys in the box hoping they wouldn't score"—took a feathered pass from Joe Nieuwendyk and roofed a shot over goalie Patrick Roy. Calgary won 4--2, the only time the Canadiens would lose the Cup on home ice. McDonald announced his retirement before the next training camp.
He now splits his time between Calgary, where he works in sales and marketing for an oil and gas company, and northwest Montana, where McDonald develops property and owns two restaurants and a microbrewery (which every year on his birthday comes out with a specialty brew called Old 'Stache porter). In 2000 McDonald ended his association with the Flames when he quit as VP for corporate relations, reportedly because of friction with the front office. "If you can't change things that are wrong," he says, "you change yourself." But you keep the mustache.