CALGARY – Wayne Fleming, a coach in Europe and the NHL and for Team Canada on the international stage died yesterday in Calgary, Alberta from brain cancer. He was 62. In a coaching career that lasted more than three decades, he was part of the hockey community at the highest level for much of his career.
“Hockey Canada has lost a great friend, and the hockey world has lost not only a tremendous coach, but a wonderful man,” said Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. “We send our condolences to Wayne’s wife, Carolyn, their four children, and the rest of the Fleming family.”
A former player in his youth, Fleming’s first coaching assignment was with the University of Manitoba Bisons in 1980. He was with the team the entire decade and won coach of the year honours in 1983-84.
In 1990 he took his first job with international implications. He was named general manager and assistant coach to Dave King of the Canadian National Team, staying for two years through to the team’s silver-medal performance at the ’92 Olympics in Albertville, France.
Fleming moved to Sweden at the start of the 1992-93 season and was head coach of Leksand in the Swedish Elitserien. After four years he moved on to Kloten in Switzerland and Landshut in Germany before returning home to take a position as assistant coach of the New York Islanders. This marked the start of nearly 15 years of uninterrupted service as an assistant at the NHL level, working variously for Phoenix, Philadelphia, Calgary, and, most recently, Tampa Bay.
Nevertheless, the tireless Fleming returned to Hockey Canada in 2000 as vice president of hockey operations. In this capacity he was head coach of the Canadian team at the 2001 and 2002 World Championships. He also served as an assistant under Pat Quinn at the 2002 Olympics which Canada won, and he stayed with the leadership team led by Quinn and executive director Wayne Gretzky during a successful run at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
One of several Canadians hired by the KHL, Fleming was behind the bench of Avangard Omsk during the 2008-09 season. He was also an assistant under Quinn in Edmonton in 2009-10 before moving on to the Lightning, his most recent stop.