Northeastern legend Flaman loses battle with cancer

Ferdinand (Fernie) Flaman, Northeastern’s longest tenured and winningest coach in the school’s history, passed away on June 22 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Flaman was 85 years old.

The Dysart, Sask., native coached the Huskies to a school-record 255 victories from 1970-1989 and also enjoyed a professional career with the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Flaman led Northeastern to four Beanpot titles (1980, 1984, 1985, 1988) and guided Northeastern to an ECAC championship (1982), a Hockey East championship (1988) and two NCAA tournament appearances (1982, 1988). The 1981-82 club set the program record for wins in a season (25), which has since been tied, but never surpassed. In 1982, Flaman earned national coach of the year honors after leading the Huskies to the Frozen Four. Flaman was inducted into the Northeastern Hall of Fame in 1989.

Flaman has also been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (1990) and the Massachusetts Hall of Fame (2011).

“Getting to know coach Flaman was an honor for me,” Northeastern University’s director of athletics and recreation Peter Roby said in a statement. “He lived his life with grace and purpose. All of his former players have a tremendous amount of respect for him. The entire Northeastern hockey family is saddened by coach Flaman’s passing. We send our love and support to his family.”

Flaman coached and mentored Northeastern’s current head coach, Jim Madigan, from 1981-1985.

“This is a sad day for Northeastern University and our athletics program,” Madigan added. “Fernie will always be remembered as the coach of Northeastern hockey, but he was much more than that. He was a coach, friend, mentor, role model, father figure and one of the nicest people one could ever meet.

“He had a strong moral and ethical compass and he passed these traits onto all of us. He was a leader of young men. I was fortunate to spend some quality time with Fernie the last three weeks and I now know he is in a better place. I know I speak for all of his former players when I say, ‘Coach, thanks for being a big part of our lives and providing us with the foundation to be good people, husbands, fathers and positive contributors to society.'”

Prior to his remarkable coaching career at Northeastern, Flaman was signed by the Boston Bruins in 1943 and played three years for the minor-league Boston Olympians before making the NHL in 1947.

Flaman played five years for the Bruins before being traded to Toronto where he won the Stanley Cup in his first season with the Maple Leafs in 1951. After three more years in Toronto, he was back with the Bruins in 1954, playing another seven seasons. Flaman was named the Bruins captain in 1955 and wore the ‘C’ for the duration of his career. In 15 NHL seasons, Flaman was a Second Team All-Star on three occasions (1955, 1957, 1958).

Gordie Howe was quoted as saying Flaman was “the toughest defenseman I ever skated against.”

On May 17, 2012, the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation recognized Flaman’s collegiate and professional accomplishments at the Hobey Baker Award banquet in St. Paul, Minn., as the 2012 Hobey Baker Legend of Hockey.

“We lost a great man,” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna in a news release. “I had the pleasure and privilege of knowing him for more than 40 years, first as a player going against his Northeastern teams, and later as a coach and administrator. What a great role model for the hockey community.”