Some characters have to be seen to be believed and Bucko McDonald was one of them. His real name was Wilfred, but the husky defenseman got the nickname Bucko because his favorite form of body check was to whack opponents with his chest; no small feat I might add.
Frank Boucher, who coached McDonald as a Ranger, said, “Bucko was the only player I knew who bounced players off his chest. He actually ejected them off his great barrel chest and was very proud of this unusual skill. After a few beers, he’d often entertain us with tall tales of how he bounced this player and that one off his chest.”
There was, however, one night in Manhattan when McDonald took his boastfulness too far. It was New Year’s Eve and Bucko, Boucher and Rangers publicist Jim Hendy were having a few drinks on 52nd Street at Hogan’s Irish House. McDonald decided to head back to his room at the Belvedere Hotel which still stands on 48th Street between Eighth Avenue and Ninth Avenue.
As Boucher, McDonald and Hendy walked South on Eighth Avenue, an innocent pedestrian was spotted walking in their direction. Suddenly, Bucko announced, “Watch, you guys; watch me flatten this fellow.”
Boucher and Hendy couldn’t believe what then took place. “Bucko launched a wobbly run,” Boucher recalled, “He was heading for the fellow and yelling like a mad man. But as McDonald charged, the man stepped nimbly aside. Bucko fell flat, and banged his mouth on the sidewalk, shattering a piece of bridgework.”
The next day at practice, Bucko was telling teammates that his bridgework had been broken by a high stick he absorbed doing a scrimmage. Meanwhile, Boucher heard the exchange and gave his chest-bouncer some sympathy and advice. “That’s a terrible thing, Bucko. You’d better get to the dentist and get yourself another plate.”