IIHF HOFer Jackie McLeod passes
by Andrew Podnieks|10 DEC 2022
Coach Jackie McLeod behind the bench at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on 26 December 1969, as Canada defeated the visiting Soviets, 3-2, in an exhibition game.
photo: Michael Burns / Hockey Hall of Fame
Just days after the hockey world lost one Honoured Member of the IIHF Hall of Fame, a second legend of the game has passed on. Robert John “Jackie” McLeod died in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, last Thursday, 8 December, just two days after the death of Jan-Ake Edvinsson.

McLeod was 92 and died peacefully at St. Paul’s Hospital. 

“He was a great teammate and coach on the National hockey team,” Morris Mott wrote on McLeod’s obituary notice, before adding a quip. “A great goal scorer despite his low velocity shot. We had many chuckles together.”

Unlike players today who start their international career prior to a pro career, McLeod played in an era where amateur and pro did not mix. As a result, The Regina native played his way up to earn a spot on the New York Rangers roster as a teenager, for the 1949-50 season as a right winger. He made his debut on December 4, 1949, a 4-0 home win over Chicago. McLeod was, however, mostly a part-time player for the Rangers for the next half dozen seasons, spending plenty of time in the WHL with the Saskatoon Quakers and a brief spell in the AHL with Cincinnati. 

By 1955, McLeod was more or less out of the NHL limelight, but he continued to have a very successful career in the minors, notably in the WHL where he proved to be, as Mott mentioned, a prolific scorer. But in 1960, McLeod retired as a professional and played senior amateur hockey with the Trail Smoke Eaters. This team went on to represent Canada at the 1961 World Championship, winning gold. Indeed, McLeod had two goals and an assist to lead Trail to a dominating 5-1 win over the Soviets in the game that decided first place on the final day of round-robin play.

A year later, he joined the Galt Terriers in representing Canada the Worlds again, and they won every game except a decisive 5-3 decision to the Swedes, giving Tre Kronor gold and Canada silver. In 1963, he played with Trail again at the World Championship, finishing fourth, and in 1966 he acted as playing-coach, taking Canada to a bronze medal. 

During the 1960s McLeod became much admired by Father David Bauer, who created Canada’s National Team and quickly recruited McLeod to the coaching ranks. After the relative success of 1966, McLeod remained Canada’s head coach through the next three years, winning bronze again at the 1967 Worlds and 1968 Olympics, and finishing fourth in 1969. 

After the National Team ceased to exist in 1970, when Canada withdrew from IIHF competition, McLeod continued to coach, in Saskatoon of the WCHL for most of the 1970s. He also coached Canada one last time, in 1975, at the invitational version of the World Junior Championship, which was held in various cities in Canada and the United States and featured players from the WCHL. Canada finished second to the Soviets. 

In addition to his career in hockey, McLeod was an avid pilot. He was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1999 to recognize his vital role in the international game throughout the 1960s.