TORONTO – Longtime NHL assistant coach Wayne Fleming has died at age 62 after a battle with brain cancer.
Fleming’s career in the NHL spanned 14 seasons with the New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Fleming family,” tweeted Lightning star Steven Stamkos. “Wayne was a great coach and even better man.”
“The hockey world has lost an incredible man in Wayne Fleming,” the Calgary Flames said via Twitter.
Fleming also coached internationally, including stints as head coach of Leksand in Sweden, EV Landshut in Germany and Avangard Omsk in Russia.
The Winnipeg native was part of three Olympic coaching staffs for Canada, winning a silver medal in Albertville in 1992 and a gold medal in Salt Lake City in 2002.
“Hockey Canada has lost a great friend, and the hockey world has lost not only a tremendous coach, but a wonderful man,” Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, said in a statement. “We send our condolences to Wayne’s wife, Carolyn, their four children and the rest of the Fleming family.”
Fleming spent nine years as head coach of the University of Manitoba men’s hockey team, winning coach of the year honours in 1984, before joining Canada’s men’s hockey team as general manager and assistant coach in 1990. He helped Canada win its first Olympic hockey medal since 1968 at the 1992 Albertville Games.
After stints as a head coach in Europe, Fleming entered the NHL and joined the Islanders as an assistant coach for the 1997-98 season.
He returned to the national team in 2000 as vice-president of hockey operations and head coach, leading Canada behind the bench at the 2001 and 2002 IIHF World Championships. He served as an assistant at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Fleming returned to the NHL as an assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2002-06 and Calgary Flames from 2006-08 before serving as head coach of Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League in 2008-09.
He was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers in 2009-10 before joining the Lightning.
“The hockey community has lost a wonderful family member today with the passing of Wayne Fleming,” Flames president and CEO Ken King said in a statement. “Wayne was a great coach, a tremendous family man and friend to us all. We are honoured that he once applied his coaching talents, his character and principles, as a member of the Calgary Flames and to the hockey world at large.”
Canadian women’s star Hayley Wickenheiser called Fleming “one of the great contributors to Canadian Hockey and a wonderful man.