Defenseman Al MacNeil played over 500 NHL games in the 50s and 60s. He was capable of taking the body in his own end and was fairly effective at passing the puck ahead to his forwards.
Born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, MacNeil was a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect and played three years with the junior Marlboros. During his first four pro seasons he was mostly used as a injury replacement while seeing full time duty with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. The one exception was his 53-game tenure on the Toronto blueline in 1953-54.
In June, 1960, MacNeil was traded to the Montreal Canadiens who assigned him to the EPHL's Hull-Ottawa Canadiens for the entire 1960-61 schedule. The next season he played 61 games and provided grit and steady play in his own end for the Habs. With youngsters like Jacques Laperriere waiting in the wings, Montreal opted to send MacNeil to the Chicago Black Hawks in May, 1962. He went on to enjoy the finest stretch of his career as a regular for the next four years on one of the top clubs in the league.
In June 1966 he was claimed by the Habs then the Rangers in the Intra-League Draft. He played steadily in 58 games for the Blueshirts and helped them reach the post-season for the first time since 1962. The next summer the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Expansion Draft sought MacNeil's experience. He played 74 games for the first year club then spent two years in the minors before retiring in 1970.
After retiring as a player, MacNeil succeeded Claude Ruel as coach of the Montreal Canadiens 23 games into the 1970-71. He led them to a strong finish and an upset of the Boston Bruins in the quarterfinals on the way to the Stanley Cup. Unrest in the dressing room cost MacNeil a chance to return in 1971-72. He resurfaced as coach of the Atlanta Flames in 1979-80 and remained with the franchise when it relocated to Calgary. During his first year in western Canada, MacNeil led the Flames to an appearance in t semifinals but he was fired after the team finished below .500 in 1981-82.
EPHL First All-Star Team (1961)