Kent Angus, 1952-2021
by Andrew Podnieks|26 APR 2021
Kent Angus was the Paul Loicq Award at the IIHF Hall of Fame ceremony in 2012.
photo: Jeff Vinnick / HHOF-IIHF Images
Kent Angus, a much loved and admired member of the IIHF family for nearly a quarter century, passed away in Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto last Saturday, 24 April, at the age of 68. He is survived by his lifetime partner, Donna, a brother Brian, and a step-daughter, Keri. He is predeceased by a son, Matthew, from an earlier marriage.

Angus received the Paul Loicq Award in 2012 at the IIHF’s Hall of Fame Ceremony in Helsinki, Finland. For more than 20 years he headed Nike’s jersey program that provided uniforms across the IIHF’s top tournaments. He was usually the first to arrive to an event and the last to leave, and he worked tirelessly to ensure all player uniforms met IIHF standards and specifications. 

But Angus wasn’t just a hard worker. He loved hockey, loved the IIHF, loved travel, and loved working with people. He was respected for his attention to detail at work and devotion to his family at home.

“Kent was just a joy to be around,” recalled long-time TSN broadcaster Gord Miller, a Loicq winner himself a year after Angus. “His job was tremendously difficult. Keeping all the federations and teams happy was no easy feat, but he did it with professionalism and good humour.”

Kent was born in Toronto and studied business administration and management at Sheridan College from 1970 until 1972. His father was a pilot for Air Canada, and Kent also earned his pilot’s license. He worked in the terminal for Air Canada at Pearson airport in Toronto, and that is how his most unlikely relationship with the IIHF began.

“Kent was the last person I’d see through the window as the aircraft door closed before taking off,” recalled former IIHF Sport Director Dave Fitzpatrick from his home in Germany. Back in the early 1990s, Fitzpatrick worked with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (Hockey Canada today) and travelled with the National Junior Team every Christmas for the World Junior Championship. Angus helped arrange the many last-minute details for the Team Canada entourage, and as such he got to know John Pickett, who represented one of the corporate partners that supported the National Team Program at the time. 

When Nike became brand supplier for the IIHF, Pickett needed someone operational who knew about hockey, Hockey Canada, and the details of organization. He thought of Angus. Coincidentally, Fitzpatrick joined the IIHF at the same time, eventually becoming Sport Director and not only working with Angus but becoming the best of personal friends as well. 

That first IIHF season, 1995/96, was a steep learning curve for Angus, Nike, and the IIHF because Nike supplied the unforms for all tournaments and all levels. Eventually Nike focused on top-level events, from the Olympics and World Championships, Women’s Worlds and the World Juniors. It was estimated that during his time coordinating with the IIHF, Angus oversaw the making of more than 75,000 sweaters for tournament play. 

It wasn’t just his work at events that was appreciated. Angus worked year-round with the involved IIHF member national associations to ensure the designs and colours, fonts, nameplates, and every detail that goes into each sweater was just perfect and to each country’s satisfaction. 

“Kent was such a constant at all the international tournaments that TSN covered,” recalled Paul Graham, a senior executive at TSN. “He was always willing to help out and go that extra mile – and always with a welcoming smile.  We worked together in locations all over Europe, and it was always comforting to see him on location.  You knew it was an important tournament when Kent was there. I last heard from him just prior to Christmas.  Even though he was retired, he was checking in to see if we had everything we needed in the Edmonton bubble.  It was just another example of what a professional and caring man he was.”

Indeed, Angus had retired in early 2019 to enjoy life and spend more time with Donna at their home in Markham and at their cottage on the French River in Ontario. However, a loss of peripheral vision, which didn’t seem like much at first, soon revealed a pinched optic nerve by a blood vessel in his brain. Surgery revealed more complications, and he was placed into an induced coma for three weeks. After waking and being alert for a few days, his condition worsened and he passed away on Saturday. He will be cremated, and a celebration of life will occur at a later date when a larger gathering can be safely arranged.

“I’m numb,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m here in Germany and Donna is in Markham, and I can’t do much. I had a call with him last Thursday to say good-bye. It was the toughest 15 minutes of my life. He was such a wonderful person, and he enjoyed life so much. It’s a shame he had so little time to enjoy retirement.”