Clare Drake, the winningest coach in Canadian college hockey history and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, died Sunday at the age of 89.
Drake coached the University of Alberta to 697 victories and six University Cup championships over 28 years before leaving in 1989. He also coached the Edmonton Oilers during the 1975-76 Wold Hockey Association season and served as a co-coach for the 1980 Canadian Olympic Hockey Team in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Drake was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last November.
“Clare was one of those iconic coaches when I was growing up that won at every level, but to me he was a teacher of the game,” Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “If you were an opponent or you were a young kid, who I was over the time, he was a guy that would try to teach and show and he didn’t care if you were the opponent. And he developed a lot of great young men who became coaches and a lot of great players and an outstanding winning tradition at Alberta.”
Trotz is one of several current and past NHL coaches who considered Drake a mentor.
“I’m a head coach today because of Clare Drake,” Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “A lot of the tactical and strategical growth that Canadian hockey has enjoyed through the National Coaching Certification Program came from his contributions.
“The biggest thing for me is that Clare Drake, if he was coaching in the NCAA, he’d be John Wooden. That’s who he is. And that’s how many people he’s impacted. That’s the kind of integrity he had, that’s the kind of moral fiber he had. Most of the players he coached ended up being good people — good doctors, good lawyers — not necessarily good pro players, but what an impact he had on the community. And for coaches who fell under his influence along the way — Dave King or Hitch or whomever — he helped us all.
—Field Level Media