PITTSBURGH - Hockey Hall of Famer Fern Flaman, who played for the Bruins from 1947-51 and then again from 1954-61, and was the head coach at Northeastern for 19 seasons, died Friday night of cancer at the age of 85.
NHL vice president Jim Gregory announced the news of Flaman’s death Saturday at the draft.
“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.’’
Flaman, who also played in the NHL for parts of four seasons with the Maple Leafs, appeared in 910 games over 17 seasons, finishing with 34 goals and 174 assists.
But defense was Flaman’s main responsibility, and he carried it out well.
Flaman, who was born in Dysart, Saskatchewan, had the respect of his opponents, Gordie Howe once calling Flaman the toughest player he ever played against, and Jean Beliveau once saying of Flaman, “When I go near that fellow, believe me, I look over my shoulder.’’
After retiring from the NHL, Flaman went on to become a player-coach with the Providence Reds of the American Hockey League. He then coached Northeastern from 1970-89, leading the Huskies to their only four Beanpot titles, and the Hockey East championship in 1988.
He was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.
“We’ve lost a great man, a great person, and a great National Hockey League player,’’ Schmidt told The Hockey News.