|Born||December 1, 1946|
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
|Occupation||Addiction counselor, TV journalist, professional athlete|
James Claude "Howie" McKenny (born December 1, 1946) is a Canadian retired broadcaster and retired professional ice hockey player. He played 604 games between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota North Stars, and was known by the nickname of 'Howie' due to his resemblance to Howie Young. McKenny once said that "Half the game is mental. The other half is being mental".
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Jim McKenny was born in Ottawa and moved to Toronto as a child. McKenny played with the Neil McNeil Maroons of the Metro Junior A league in 1962–63. When the league folded in 1963, McKenny transferred to the Ontario Hockey Association's Toronto Marlboros who won the Memorial Cup in 1964. As a junior, McKenny was considered by many scouts as the second-best defenceman prospect after Bobby Orr. In later years, McKenny spoke openly of his personal life and career being negatively affected by periods of alcoholism developed during his teen-age years.
Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round of the 1963 NHL Amateur Draft (17th overall), McKenny had difficulty staying in the NHL early in his career and often played forward instead of his usual position on defense. He was called up from the Marlies to play 2 games with the Leafs in the 1965–66 season. He was given two other opportunities to make the Leafs teams in the 1966–67 and 1967-1968 seasons but only played a total of eleven games. However, on Feb. 24, 1968, he did score the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win over Boston which was the second of his NHL career. He was not promoted to stay on the Maple Leafs for several years, attributed to a poor attitude, possibly his alcoholism and his antipathy towards the high-pressure style of coach and GM Punch Imlach. He played in the minor leagues for the Tulsa Oilers (CPHL), the Rochester Americans (AHL), and the Vancouver Canucks (WHL). McKenny and Don Cherry were roommates when on the road with the Rochester Americans.
Jim McKenny finally became a full-time member of the Toronto Maple Leafs team during the 1969–70 season and became one of the Leafs top defensemen for eight seasons. McKenny has the fifth highest points total for Leafs defencemen, accumulating 327 points (81 goals, 246 assists) in 594 games, behind only Börje Salming, Tomas Kaberle, Tim Horton, and Ian Turnbull. McKenny was paired frequently with former Marlboro team-mate Brian Glennie, with offensive skills complementing the hard-hitting, defense-oriented style of Glennie. In 1974, McKenny played in the NHL All-Star Game. In 1971, he also appeared in the movie "Face-Off" as the skating stand-in for Art Hindle.
Near the end of his career, McKenny was sent down to the Central Hockey League's Dallas Black Hawks for the 1977–78 season. Despite the demotion, he was named to the CHL's Second All-Star Team. On May 15, 1978, McKenny was traded to the Minnesota North Stars for cash and future considerations (the rights to Owen Lloyd), playing in only ten games before retiring from the NHL. He played one season in Europe for Swiss and French teams before retiring completely from hockey.
After hockey, McKenny returned to Toronto and entered the broadcasting industry selling advertising, and later as a colour commentator for Italian-Canadian hockey games on a local cable station. He also worked as a male model. McKenny joined Citytv as a sports reporter and later a sports anchorman on the dinner-hour broadcasts. At the end of the sports segments, Gord Martineau usually referred to McKenny by his nickname "Howie". While on vacation in 2002, McKenny suffered a heart attack but was able to make a full recovery.
In 2013, McKenney was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.
Personal struggle with alcohol
Jim struggled with Alcohol for much of his career in hockey and TV. He started during his late teens and the alcoholism continued well into his forties. However, with good support and good treatment he has been sober for over two decades.
He now helps other addicts by working as a counsellor at the Canadian Centre for Addictions. This kind of inspiration has had a profound effect on the clients of the drug rehab based in Port Hope, Ontario.
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- Canadian Centre for Addictions
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