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Brian MacLellan Wants to Score, Not Fight : Kings Would Like to See 6-3, 212-Pound Winger Get More Physical

January 29, 1985|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

Left wing Brian MacLellan of the Kings has a body that could be on a hunk-of-the-month calendar.

MacLellan, 22, is 6 feet 3 inches and 212 pounds, has been lifting weights since he was in college, and is one of the strongest players on the team. He said that he can bench-press 340 pounds and can lift 450 pounds in the squat.

Looking at him, you'd never suspect that his medical history is longer than some novels.

When MacLellan was a child, doctors said he might never walk again.

"I had Legg-Perthes, which is a bone disease, in my left hip," MacLellan said. "They said I'd either get better or I'd be a cripple by the time I was 21. They put me in a body brace for one year."

The treatment worked, MacLellan recovered and began playing hockey.

He suffered another serious injury, though, when he was 19 and playing in a junior league. He skated into the boards and the sudden impact snapped his head back, breaking his neck.

"I was close to being paralyzed," he said. "It was a tough period because the doctors said I wouldn't be able to play again."

For someone who'd been told he might not walk, however, that only served as a challenge. MacLellan sat out about five months, then enrolled at Bowling Green University in Ohio and resumed his hockey career, playing defense and left wing.

The Kings signed him as a free agent in April, 1982. Hardly had he reported, however, when he suffered a pulled groin muscle that caused him to miss most of training camp and the first eight games of the season. The Kings sent him to their farm team in New Haven, Conn.

Lately, however, MacLellan's medical problems have been few and his career has been on the rise. He had 25 goals and 29 assists in his first full season with the Kings last season, playing on a line with center Bernie Nicholls and right wing Jim Fox.

This season, the Kings have MacLellan at Charlie Simmer's old spot on their best line with center Marcel Dionne and right wing Dave Taylor.

"I think anyone would love to play with Marcel and Dave because you get a chance to score more goals," MacLellan said. "I think I've learned a lot, playing with two guys like that, because you have to come up to their level.

"I'm playing with more consistency. Last year was tough because I was used to playing 40 games a year in college and it was hard to get used to playing 80 games."

Considering his physique, the Kings would like to see MacLellan play the role that Simmer, at 6-3 and 210, played on the Triple Crown Line. Simmer would go into the corner to dig out the puck and helped protect Dionne.

MacLellan, however, would rather use his body to score goals than to get into fights. He became the fifth King to reach the 20-goal mark with a score Jan. 21 against Edmonton, and is fifth in team scoring with 53 points. Dionne is among the leading scorers in the National Hockey League this season with 79 points. Taylor has 61 points.

"When I first came into the league they wanted me to be an enforcer," MacLellan said. "If a guy has size, it doesn't mean that he has to be an enforcer, or goon. But a lot of guys get forced into that role."

Said Coach Pat Quinn: "Mac is a guy with great physical qualities. His board work is increasing. We'd like to see him get more physical. With a body like that, we'd like to see him use it more.

"He's a young man still learning about himself on a daily basis. It's not easy playing with (Dionne and Taylor). They are both tremendously talented, but they have a tendency to ad lib on the ice. They do things that we don't teach. And Mac is flexible enough to play with them.

"We put him on that line because Mac has similar abilities in the corner as Simmer. Mac is starting to find his way around with them now."

Dionne said that MacLellan has improved.

"He's starting to stand his own ground a bit more, but we want to get a bit more out of him.

"With Charlie, we had a lot of things going that were automatic. You have to be very alert. He has the same size as Charlie and much better speed. I wish he could use it more."

Taylor also compared MacLellan to Simmer.

"Mac plays a lot like Charlie used to. He's a smart hockey player and can see what's developing on the ice.

"I think he has the potential to be one of the best in the league. He could easily be a 40- or 50-goal scorer."

MacLellan was born in Guelph, Canada, which is just outside Toronto. He has fallen in love with Southern California, however, and spends the off-season here. He recently bought a condo with an ocean view in Redondo Beach.

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