The hockey world went into mourning on Tuesday as news broke that long-time coach Wayne Fleming had passed away following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Born in July 1950, the Winnipeg native delved into the hockey world via a short junior career. Instead of trying his hand at pro, Fleming became a coach – and the rest is history. Fleming was head coach at the University of Manitoba for nine seasons (1980-87 and 1988-90), posting a 140-78-14 record with the Bisons. He also served as an assistant coach for the Bisons in 1979-80.
Fleming tried his hand at international hockey, stepping behind the bench for Hockey Canada as an assistant coach for two seasons, winning a silver medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics. He also received head coaching jobs in Sweden (Leksands IF) and Germany (EV Landshut) before embarking on a lengthy National Hockey League career. In between his NHL stops, he also served as head coach of the KHL’s Avangard Omsk and an associate coach for Team Canada’s 2002 Olympic gold medal winning team.
Fleming’s influence can be felt throughout the league, but most notably where he served as a assistant coach: Long Island (1997-99), Phoenix (1999-2001), Philadelphia (2002-06), Calgary (2006-08), Edmonton (2009-10) and Tampa Bay (2010-13).
Following the announcement of his passing, Twitter erupted with tributes for the late, great Wayne Fleming.
RIP, Wayne Fleming. A wonderful man I got to know at world championships over the years. Will be missed by many in the hockey world.
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 26, 2013
So sad to hear about Wayne Fleming passing. One of my 1st pro coaches. He could sure run a bag skate. hockey lost a great man today! RIP — Eric Nystrom (@enystrom23) March 26, 2013
The Islanders are deeply saddened by the passing of former assistant coach Wayne Fleming. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. — NYIslanders (@NYIslanders) March 26, 2013
The hockey world has lost an incredible man in Wayne Fleming. Our condolences go out to his wife Carolyn & his family. RIP Wayne. — Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 26, 2013
Wayne Fleming always found time for you. A hockey guy or a wannabe like me. Kind, considerate and very good at what he loved. Will miss you
— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) March 26, 2013
The Bolts extend their condolences to the family of former asst coach Wayne Fleming, who passed away yesterday – He will be greatly missed.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 26, 2013
It’s with heavy heart that we say good bye to Wayne Fleming.He was the “Indiana Jones” of hockey.Thoughts and prayers with his family. — Rob Kerr (@SNRobKerr) March 26, 2013
Wayne Fleming has passed away. Having visited him here in Calgary as he battled I will never forget how his love for hockey kept him going
— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) March 26, 2013
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.