Clare Drake always believed the more you shared, the more you learned. That philosophy might prove to be Drake’s greatest and longest lasting legacy, even beyond being the builder behind the most successful university hockey program in Canada, the Alberta Golden Bears, and his overdue induction in the HHOF.
Drake, who passed away at the age of 89 on the weekend, won six CIAU hockey titles (and another one in football) and 17 Canada West championships during his storied tenure as coach of the Golden Bears. For all the banners hanging in the House that Drake Built, his peers and the people who coached with him and against him remember the great Drake as much for his willingness to share and pass on what he knew as his unquestionable success.
In that regard, the roots and the branches of Drake’s coaching tree reach right across the country from the NHL on down through the coaching ranks. From the likes of Ken Hitchcock, Mike Babcock and Barry Trotz, to coaches who followed in Drake’s footsteps with the Golden Bears – Billy Moores, Rob Daum, Eric Thurston, Ian Herbers and Serge Lajoie – his approach and ideas live on.
Drake was a year removed as the coach of the Golden Bears and Moores was running the hockey show when I showed up on the university beat, but it was almost like he never really left because Billy and just about every coach who walked into what used to be called Varsity Arena talked about him. That, in the wake of Drake’s passing, hasn’t changed today.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“I probably watched him coach and run practices for three years before we actually met,” Hitchcock told Dustin Nielson of TSN 1260 this morning. “I went to the Golden Bear games probably more than I did the Oil Kings games . . . Clare had a very unique perspective, one that was not endorsed by anybody, especially at the professional level. He had a feeling, very similar to John Wooden, that the more he shared the more he learned. That was a tough sell in professional hockey and it’s still a tough sell, but he really embraced that. He felt if he shared his ideas he could learn more.”
“Clare was such a good person and he got players to play so hard,” Babcock, who coached at the University of Lethbridge in 1993-94, told NHL.com today. “I think a big part of that was just being the kind of man he was. You had to play that hard because you didn’t want to let him down. When I think of him, I think of the number of people he touched.”
“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,” Trotz said. “If you were an opponent or you were a young kid, 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.”
That’s pretty high praise from three coaches who have combined for more than 2,200 regular season wins in the NHL. Moores and Babcock both talked about Drake at length during the six years I covered the Golden Bears. Same thing down the line with Daum and Thurston and Herbers. Drake not only won championships and built the Golden Bears into a powerhouse hockey program, he built coaches that injected innovations that remain in the game today.
In that regard, the great Clare Drake lives on.
The fifth edition of Hockey Helps the Homeless played out at the Terwillegar Rec Centre Friday and it was a bigger success than anybody involved with it expected. When everything is tallied, the net proceeds from the event will be right around $175,000, which will stay here in Edmonton and be split between the Mustard Seed and Jasper Place Wellness Centre. That’s an increase of just over $100,000 from the 2017 edition of the event. Thanks.
The individuals and businesses who stepped up deserve the most obvious thanks. It doesn’t matter how diligent you are in selling an event, it doesn’t matter if people aren’t buying, and buy in they did in numbers we haven’t seen. Causes like HHTH go nowhere without the kind of generosity the people of Edmonton have shown time after time throughout the years. Thanks.
I also have to put a shout out to former Oilers’ coach Ron Low and his wife Linda. They worked tirelessly to make this a success. It was exhausting just to watch them. I’m also grateful for coverage provided by our media partners at Bell Media with TSN 1260 and CTV. Having the radio shows – Dustin Nielson, Allan Mitchell, Dave Jamieson and Jason Gregor — at the event was a big hit. I’m also grateful to the rest of the media outlets in town, particularly Bob Stauffer at 630 CHED, Min Dhariwal and Mark Connolly at CBC, Kevin Karius and Global TV, as well as Marty Forbes, Cam Tait and Jim Matheson at Post Media, for their support. The success of the event is going to help a lot of people who need it. Thanks.