Big Mac, a pugilist’s journey from the WHL to the NHL and beyond

 

In a long line of players to have put on the Prince Albert Raiders sweater, Steve MacIntyre perhaps has one of the best stories of making it to the NHL and hockey life after the show.

MacIntyre is a Brock, SK native who’s WHL career started in 1997 with the Saskatoon Blades. During the 1999 WHL season, he found himself with the Prince Albert Raiders playing 47 games tallying exactly one hundred penalty minutes. By this point, his ability with his hands was reaching legendary junior status only not for scoring goals but for elevating his team as its Marshal.

MacIntyre’s 6-foot-4 frame, with hands the size of dinner plates, made him an intimidating force for any opponent to handle. Currently, while writing this story, sitting in my DVD collection of hockey’s past glories is one bootleg disc that has all of MacIntyre’s WHL fights. The hockey world now doesn’t have as much of an appetite for fighting as it once did. ‘Marshals’ were a required role on the team and in some light still are. ‘Mac’ proudly did this duty for his teammates and his coaches. While this talent alone doesn’t get one selected at the NHL draft all too often it is still something teams look for on hockey’s “aftermarket”.

MJHL League logo

With the OCN Blizzard of the MJHL in 2000, Steve’s junior career in Canada came to a halt. Steve is still to this day considered a cult player in The Pas, MB with fans still wearing his jersey to Blizzard games. Meanwhile, in the United States, a new junior hockey league was on the horizon called the Continental Elite Hockey League. It stood alone in the hockey universe as an independent league not operating under USA Hockey regulations.

Originally recruited by the Bay County Blizzard, MacIntyre led the league in penalty minutes with 260. Coincidentally this was also the same year in which he crushed his previous points totals of 14 with the OCN Blizzard by getting 30 for the Bay County Blizzard. Unfortunately, he found himself removed from the league for accumulating too many suspensions, the final blow delivered after cross-checking an opponent in a scrum. For most this would be the end of their junior career and time to join the “real” world.

Well, the real world would have to wait, as the Muskegon Fury of the United Hockey League came calling for him and he finished the year out with them, winning the Colonial Cup in 2002. With a full year in the ECHL to follow with the Charlotte Checkers, upper pro leagues were beginning to really take notice of his abilities. The Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League called upon him between 2003-2004 where he more than proved his abilities and racked up two hundred plus penalty minutes while not costing the team on the scoreboard.

July 3rd, 2008 was a day to remember for MacIntyre and his family.

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The Florida Panthers signed him after watching him closely while he played in the New York Rangers’ farm system. He was not in the Panthers’ organization for too long as the Edmonton Oilers picked him up on waivers. His first NHL fight came against the Oilers’ arch-rivals the Calgary Flames. At the receiving end of his fists was ex-junior teammate Jim Vandemeer who in his own right is one of the toughest players to ever make it in the NHL. Another first came on January 13th when MaIntyrec scored his first NHL goal against the Washington Capitals.

From riding buses in junior in Canada and the United States, going undrafted, playing hard in the minor pros with thoughts of giving it up to now being in the best hockey league in the world.

That is quite an accomplishment with the ability to become a best-selling tell-all book author if he ever wanted to do such a thing. Split across five seasons in the NHL, Steve suited up ninety-one times in total for the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

By 2014, Steve was on the outside of the NHL looking back in once again, this time with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL, playing what many thought would be his final professional games. For two seasons, hockey came and went without Steve MacIntyre.

Steve MacIntyre takes on all newcomers; Photo by James Jackson, Carolina Thunderbirds

Steve had retired from the game and was residing in Kernersville, NC working as a firefighter, which is one of if not the bravest jobs a civilian can have, when the itch came back again. January 19th, 2018, a small minor pro hockey league had a huge announcement to make from one of its better teams, the Carolina Thunderbirds. The Federal Prospects Hockey League and the ‘Birds had landed ex-NHL talent, Steve MacIntyre.

Steve MacIntyre of the Carolina Thunderbirds. Photo by James Jackson, Carolina Thunderbirds

With the Thunderbirds club he has found a home to continue his professional hockey career at his own pace and close to his family as the ‘Birds play out of Winston-Salem NC. Steve has played 24 games recording 13 points and 120 penalty minutes. Seen as a benchmark for some of the league’s tougher players, he does get the odd challenge on ice and still has shown his abilities with his fists to bring the fans out of their seats and his opponents to their knees. He is listed for the club’s 2020-21 roster so when the Covid restrictions get lighter you just may catch ‘Big Mac’, out on the ice playing the game he loves.

DUBNetwork Forums Big Mac, a pugilists journey from the WHL to the NHL and beyond.

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