Darkness with Harkness

This is Ned Harkness. It’s important to know that he was a legendary college coach long before the Detroit Red Wings hired him. Harkness built exceptional programs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Cornell and won the NCAA title in 1954 (RPI), 1967 (Cornell with Ken Dryden) and 1970 (Cornell, 29-0-0 without Dryden).

On May 22 1970 the Detroit Red Wings hired Harkness to be their head coach. At first blush it must have seemed like a fine idea, a man with so much success in the college ranks moving up to the pro’s with fresh strategy and a new voice.

There was a problem. Some of the veterans started grumbling about Ned’s rules (he banned smoking in the dressing room, which pissed off Alex Delvecchio and “trainer” Lefty Wilson) and then there was the coaching which didn’t sit well with the men of the winged wheel.

I can’t possibly explain in 10,000 words what is detailed here. If you enjoy hockey history, prepare to be amazed.

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4 Responses to "Darkness with Harkness"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Good stuff LT.

    Seriously though, he banned smoking in the dressing room? What a martinet!

  2. DeBakey says:

    “I want guys who go both ways, guys who forecheck, guys who backcheck, guys who do it all.”

    What’s up with that?
    He was stifling their offensive creativity!

    I remember that 13-0 game.
    I was a Leaf fan in those pre-Oiler daze;
    that was a fun game to watch.

  3. Bruce says:

    I was a Leaf fan then too, and I also remember that game. They still show it on NHL Network once in a while as a “classic” but it was anything but. Toronto was no flaming hell, but Detroit was absolutely brutal. They finished 7th and last in the East, behind both new expansion teams Buffalo and Vancouver.

  4. CrazyCoach says:

    Great story LT.

    Can you imagine if George Burnett would have replaced Slats?

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