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Wayne Fleming (centre), with Mike Ridley (left) and Vaughn Karpan (right) at the University of Manitoba Hockey Dinner.

U of M mournes Wayne Fleming

March 27, 2013 — 

The University of Manitoba and Bisons Sports remember former Bisons men’s hockey head coach and player Wayne Fleming. Fleming fought a courageous battle with brain cancer and passed away on Monday, March 25. He was 62 years old.

“We are very saddened at the passing of Wayne Fleming and our deepest condolences go to Wayne’s wife Carolyn and the Fleming family,” reflected current Bisons Men’s Hockey Head Coach Mike Sirant. “Wayne’s passion, pride and hard work built the Manitoba Bisons into an elite and nationally respected Canadian University Men’s Hockey program. He continued to be a tremendous supporter of the Bisons throughout his National Hockey League coaching career. Wayne was a great friend, mentor and inspiration to countless coaches, players and students at the University of Manitoba. We will be forever grateful for the legacy Wayne and Carolyn left on our campus and in the Province of Manitoba.”

Born in Snow Lake, Manitoba, Fleming played four years for the Manitoba Bisons (1970-71, ’71-72, ’72-73 and ’74-75). He graduated with a Bachelor of Physical Education in 1973, and a Certificate in Education in 1975 at the University of Manitoba.

Following his graduation, Fleming continued to be involved with the Bisons men’s hockey team, first as an assistant coach for three seasons (1976-77 to 1979-80), before taking the head coaching position in 1980. He was at the helm of the Bisons for nine seasons (1980-81 to 1986-87, 1988-89 to 1989-90), earning a record of 140-78-14.

In his nine seasons as head coach, Fleming guided the Bisons to back-to-back GPAC (now defunct Great Plains Athletic Conference) Championships in 1984 and 1985. He also racked up the personal accolades, being named the GPAC Coach of the Year in the 1982-83 season and the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (now CIS) Coach of the Year in the 1984-85 season.

During his days with the Manitoba Bisons, Fleming coached future NHLers Mike Ridley and Stu Grimson, plus Canadian Olympian Vaughn Karpan. Wayne Fleming also coached current Bisons men’s hockey head coach Mike Sirant from 1981 to 1985, and helped Sirant into the coaching ranks, naming Sirant assistant coach in 1989-90.

Wayne Fleming was inducted into the Manitoba Bisons Men’s Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.

After his time with the Bisons, Fleming had a very successful coaching career both internationally and at the NHL level. He was a part of the Canadian National Team winning a silver medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics, and capturing gold medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Fleming’s professional coaching career continued in Europe, first at the helm of Leksands IF in Sweden for four years, followed by time with the Landshut Cannibals in Germany for one year. His NHL coaching career included time with the New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning.

“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.

Fleming is survived by his wife Carolyn, his four children, seven grandchildren, parents, and sister. A celebration of Wayne’s life is being planned and details will be announced as they become available.

 

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