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June 28, 2016

Obituary: Hall of Fame coach Fern Flaman, at 85

Colin A. Young and Sarah Moomaw, News Staff

Fern Flaman, a Hockey Hall of Famer and the longest tenured Northeastern men’s hockey head coach, died of cancer June 23. He was 85.

NHL Vice President Jim Gregory announced Mr. Flaman’s passing on the floor of the NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh prior to the start of the second round on June 23.

As head coach of the Huskies from 1970 to 1989, Mr. Flaman amassed a record of 255–301–23 and brought each of Northeastern’s four Beanpot championships to Huntington Avenue. He also holds the school record for wins in a season (25) and all-time wins.

He was inducted into the Northeastern University Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1989, and the Massachusetts Hall of Fame recognized him last fall for his work in the hockey community throughout his career by inducting him as a member of the Class of 2011.

At his Massachusetts Hall of Fame induction, Mr. Flaman said his fondest memory was bringing home Northeastern’s first Beanpot win. He and his players credit that first win, in the 28th annual Beanpot in February 1980, as the turning point for the university’s hockey program.

“Once we got going, and won that game in 1980, we got the program going up and doing very well,” Mr. Flaman told The News in November.

Mr. Flaman’s eight winning seasons as head coach remain a program best. In total, his teams captured four Beanpot titles, two league championships and an NCAA Frozen Four appearance.

Before coaching, Mr. Flaman played more than 900 games over the course of 15 seasons as a defenseman in the National Hockey League, primarily for the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. He won a Stanley Cup with the Leafs in 1951 and finished his professional career with 34 goals, 174 assists and 1,370 penalty minutes.

“One thing I can say is that if there was anyone tougher than Fern Flaman during my career, I can’t imagine who it would be,’’ Bruins legend Milt Schmidt told The Hockey News. “I played with and against some great defensemen and he was one of the greatest. He was a great stay-at-home defenseman.’’

Mr. Flaman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.

Current Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan, who played for Mr. Flaman between 1982 and 1985, said the former bench boss taught his players to play the game the right way.

“He taught us about hockey, but also about life,” Madigan told The News in a November interview. “Always trying to make sure we are good people, respecting people whether it be on campus or off campus, doing the right thing … He led by example. Always preaching doing the right thing, on the ice, off the ice, in the classroom.”

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