A self-made scout -- during the NHL lockout of 1994-95, he moved back to his parents’ house and basically taught himself how properly evaluate players -- McDonald is always on the lookout for players who can help the Blues.
He also provides reports on opponents and how they respond at the sport’s highest level. Last night, for example, he was taking a good look at Bruins rookie defenseman Kevan Miller, playing in his first NHL game.
Vladimir Sobotka is a good example of one of his ‘finds’. A Bruins’ forward for parts of three seasons, McDonald watched him play at both the NHL and, particularly, the AHL level in Providence and saw that he had all the intangibles the Blues were looking for in a bottom six forward: speed, skill, grit, tenacity, etc.
So while Sobotka (traded to St. Louis in June 2010) isn’t lighting the league on fire (3 goals, 6 assists, 27 PIMs in 21 games), he fits perfectly into the Blues’ scheme as a third line faceoff specialist and tenacious three-zone player.
“The Bruins and Providence Bruins are easy for me to see because of where I live (in North Andover),” said McDonald, rasied in neighboring Lawrence.
McDonald grew up playing for renowned power skating guru Paul Vincent of Beverly (”I still see him all the time, where he works for the Providence Bruins,” said McDonald) with the North Shore Raiders hockey program. Many of his teammates were from Marblehead and matriculated to St. John’s Prep, so McDonald went to see the school for himself.
“It was a good match and a great opportunity for me,” said McDonald, a forward who played for the Eagles under Joe Yannetti, then Frank Salvucci as a senior in the 1982-83 season. His teammates included guys like Shawn Shaughnessy, Eddie McCarthy and defenseman David Delfino; younger players such as Kenny Hodge Jr., Mike Kelfer and Andy Donahue also wore the Prep crest at the same time he did.