Boston Hockey Legend, Former Northeastern Coach, Flaman Dead at 85
CHN Staff Report
BOSTON Ferdinand (Fernie) Flaman, who has the most wins of any coach in Northeastern hockey history, passed away on Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 85 years old.
The Dysart, Saskatchewan, native not only coached the Huskies to a school record 255 victories from 1970 to 1989, but he also enjoyed a fruitful professional playing career with the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Flaman led the Huskies to four Beanpot titles in the 1980s (1980, 1984, 1985 and 1988) and guided Northeastern to an ECAC Championship (1982), a Hockey East championship (1988) and two NCAA Tournament appearances (1982 and 1988). Flaman's 1981-82 club set the program record for wins in a season (25), which, though tied, has never been surpassed. In 1982, the American Hockey Coaches Association named Flaman national coach of the year after leading the Huskies to the Frozen Four. Upon retirement from Northeastern, Flaman was inducted into the Northeastern Hall of Fame in 1989.
“Getting to know Coach Flaman was an honor for me,” Northeastern athletic director Peter Roby said. “He lived his life with grace and purpose. All of his former players have a tremendous amount of respect for him. The entire Northeastern hockey family is saddened by Coach Flaman's passing. We send our love and support to his family.”
Flaman coached and mentored Northeastern's current head coach, Jim Madigan. Madigan played under the direction of Flaman from 1981 to 1985.
“This is a sad day for Northeastern University and our athletics program,” Madigan said. “Fernie will always be remembered as the coach of Northeastern hockey but he was much more than that. He was a coach, friend, mentor, role model, father figure and one of the nicest people one could ever meet.
“He had a strong moral and ethical compass and he passed these traits onto all of us. He was a leader of young men. I was fortunate to spend some quality time with Fernie the last three weeks and I now know he is in a better place. I know I speak for all of his former players when I say, Coach, thanks for being a big part of our lives and providing us with the foundation to be good people, husbands, fathers and positive contributors to society.”
Prior to his coaching career at Northeastern, Flaman was signed by the Boston Bruins in 1943 and played three years for the minor-league Boston Olympians before making the NHL in 1947.
Flaman played five years for the Bruins before being traded to Toronto where he won the Stanley Cup in his first season with the Maple Leafs in 1951. After three more years in Toronto, he was back with the Bruins in 1954, playing another seven seasons. Flaman was named the Bruins captain in 1955 and wore the 'C' for the duration of his career. In 15 NHL seasons, Flaman was a Second Team All-Star on three occasions (1955, 1957 & 1958).
NHL Hall of Fame player Gordie Howe was quoted as saying Flaman was “the toughest defenseman I ever skated against.”
Flaman finished his NHL career with 34 goals and 174 assists for 208 points in 910 games, and added 1,370 penalty minutes. At the time of his retirement, he was third in NHL history in career penalty minutes.
In 1961, Flaman became player-coach with the Bruins top farm club in Providence, a dual role he held for three years. He followed that up with four more years coaching in the minor pros before beginning his extensive collegiate coaching career with Northeastern in 1970.
On May 17, 2012, the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation recognized Flaman's collegiate and professional accomplishments at the Hobey Baker Award banquet in St. Paul, Minn., as the 2012 Hobey Baker Legend of Hockey.
In addition to his most recent honor, Flaman has been inducted into three Halls of Fame: the Northeastern University Varsity Club Hall of Fame (1989), the Hockey Hall of Fame (1990) and the Massachusetts Hall of Fame (2011).