Down Memory Lane - Jack McKinnon
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
One of the most brilliant coaches in box lacrosse history was Jack McKinnon, the fingernail-chewing architect of the Vancouver Burrards who dominated Canada's National Summer Game during the 1960's. No fewer than 13 individuals who played on McKinnon-piloted Vancouver teams were subsequently inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, as was Jack himself in the Builders Selection.
McKinnon was introduced to the game of lacrosse by the legendary Reg "Pop" Phillips (also a Hall of Fame Builder) during the late 1930's. By 1943, although not yet 17, Jack turned Senior with the old Richmond Farmers. In 168 games with Richmond, Navy, Indians and Vancouver, Jack accumulated 199 goals and 72 assists for 271 points.
While reaching the end of his playing career, he decided to give something back to the game by coaching a bunch of 12-14 year olds. The lessons he taught didn't take long to bear fruit. By 1954, Jack had guided his PNE Indians Junior squad to the Minto Cup championship. The following year, the team whipped everything on the West Coast but, oddly, failed to get by Winnipeg in the Western Canadian title play. However, it was another Minto Cup victory in 1956 for his club, now sponsored by the Mount Pleasant Legion.
Fantastic: Two national championships in three years and an incredible record of 74 wins, one tie and only four losses - it was time now to invade the Senior level.
McKinnon moved his entire 1956 Junior squad into the Senior Inter-City Lacrosse League under the Vancouver banner and, as expected, the 1957 season was a learning process for his youngsters. The success of McKinnon-led teams could be detailed by his cuticles - the more losses, the shorter the nails. There was mostly skin where the fingernails were meant to be after the 10-20 first year outcome.
Jack had vowed to go to the Mann Cup within three years when he took his club into the Senior league; otherwise he would step aside. Vancouver took second place in 1958 and repeated in 1959 but both times failed to capture the Western title. True to his word, Jack turned over the coaching reins to . His belief in his players was not unfounded - just one year late. Vancouver won the Mann Cup in 1961, 1963 and 1964. Jack had remained with the team as a vice-president and general manager but still felt the need to teach. Following a Mann Cup loss in 1966, Jack returned for one more season of coaching. He went out a winner, the proud leader of the 1967 Mann Cup champions.
Hall of Famers whom Jack has coached include , , , , , , , , , , , and . taught McKinnon to give back to the game, an ethic he passed on to many of his former players - former Coquitlam president , Western Lacrosse Association Board Chair , statistician , former WLA president , Burrards' executive .
Jack was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1978. Seventy-two years old this August, Jack now spends his time between his Coquitlam residence and his summer home on the Sunshine Coast.