June 26, 2012

Longtime Bruin, NU coach Fern Flaman remembered fondly

By Stan Fischler

The recent passing of New Jersey Devils scout and NHL defenseman Fern Flaman at the age of 85 was a blow to those who knew and revered him as a player, a coach -- at Northeastern – and as an aide to Lou Lamoriello (Providence, R.I.). 

Fern Flaman (left) poses at an event honoring Willie O'Ree (right) at TD Garden in 2008. (Getty Images)

Flaman was as tough as he was a clean backliner who fought -- and beat -- any foe who took him on, and that included Rangers heavyweight Lou Fontinato.

Fernie broke in with the Boston Olympics, the Bruins Eastern League farm team, during World War II and graduated to the Bruins. Traded to the Maple Leafs, he helped Toronto win a Stanley Cup in 1951 but returned to Boston for the 1954-55 campaign.

"Fernie was a solid bodychecker," said Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt who coached Flaman in Boston, "and was at his best when things were rough."

After an NHL career that saw him play in 910 games, 682 of which came for the Bruins, Flaman became a player, coach and GM for the AHL’s Providence Reds, a role he held for the three seasons before hanging up his skates. After one final season behind the bench with the Reds, he coached multiple minor-league clubs before joining Northeastern.

He led the Huskies to four Beanpot titles during his tenure (1972-89) and owns the record for most victories by a Northeastern coach.

“He taught us about hockey, but also about life,” said current NU coach Jim Madigan, who played for Flaman for four seasons (1981-85) at Northeastern. “(He was) always trying to make sure we are good people, respecting people whether it be on campus or off campus, doing the right thing … He lead by example. (He was) always preaching doing the right thing, on the ice, off the ice, in the classroom.”

Flaman became a member of the veterans section of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990. He enjoyed a long and successful career as college coach before signing up with the Devils organization. In his 85th year, Fernie remained active with New Jersey and planned to attend the Draft when his medical condition suddenly worsened.

“We’ve lost a great man, a great person, and a great National Hockey League player,’’ Schmidt told The Hockey News.

Jesse Connolly contributed to this article.

Follow Stan Fischler on Twitter at @StanFischler.