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He was a 19-year-old university student when he joined the Leafs in 1942, playing forward at a time when many regulars left to join the war effort. Interestingly, McLean did not practise with the Leafs, and with but a few exceptions, was allowed only to play games in Canada (at home in Toronto and in Montreal). Whereas many young men dreamed of playing in the NHL, Jack used his NHL career to provide a university degree in engineering, which became his career after retiring in 1945.