Born in London, Ontario, MacTavish spent
two years at The University of Lowell, a Division II school in Massachusetts where
he was an all-American in 1979. He was taken 153rd overall by the
Boston Bruins in 1978 and recorded 28 points in 46 games as a rookie in
1979-80 after starting the year in the AHL. Over the next two
seasons, the young pivot spent more time in the minors working on his
overall game. He returned in 1982-83 as a solid checker and penalty
killer and helped the club reach the semifinals.
After scoring 43 points in 1983-84, MacTavish
was involved in an automobile accident that forced him to miss the next
season. He signed as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers and spent
nearly nine years with the organization. MacTavish
recorded four 20-goal seasons and played a major role on Edmonton's Stanley Cup triumphs in 1987,
1988 and 1990. In 1992 he was named team captain and held this position
until he was traded to the New York Rangers late in the 1993-94 season.