Tri-City Americans

He used to coach hockey in the Tri-Cities. Now he's retiring after setting a major record

Kamloops coach Don Hay retired Thursday after 19 years in the Western Hockey League. With 750 wins, he is the winningest coach in the WHL.
Kamloops coach Don Hay retired Thursday after 19 years in the Western Hockey League. With 750 wins, he is the winningest coach in the WHL. Courtesy of the Kamloops Blazers

The winningest coach in the Western Hockey League has decided to leave the bench.

Kamloops Blazers coach Don Hay stepped down Thursday, leaving a legacy that spanned 1,366 games and three Memorial Cup titles. Hey will remain with the team in an advisory role.

"I've had a great career," Hay told KamloopsMatters.com. "It's a lot of memories, a lot of good times, a lot of good people. You want to remember those types of things. I got a lot of texts yesterday from ex-players, and when they use that word 'retiring' in the text, it really stands out."

Hay, who coached two years with the Tri-City Americans, surpassed Ken Hodge's 742 wins Jan. 27 as the Blazers beat the Portland Winterhawks 4-2.

Hay finishes his career with a 750-506-110 record. He won Memorial Cups with the Blazers in 1994-95, and again with the Vancouver Giants in 2007. In 19 WHL seasons, Hay had just four losing seasons.

“Setting a record of this kind is not only a remarkable achievement but serves to highlight what an incredible career Don has had to this point and the success his teams have enjoyed under his leadership," WHL commissioner Ron Robison told Kelowna Now in January.

Hay, 64, began his coaching career as an assistant with Kamloops, then took over as head coach in 1992. He spent three years with the Blazers before spending the next three years in the NHL.

In 1998, Hay took the helm of the Tri-City Americans. Their first season produced a 43-23 record, with six ties. They advanced to the conference finals, where they lost to Kamloops in four games.

The next season would not be as profitable, and Hay was out the door and headed back to the pros.

Hay returned to the WHL in 2004 with the Vancouver Giants, where he spent 10 seasons before returning to his hometown Blazers for the final four seasons of his career.

Hay also coached Team Canada to a World Junior title in 1995, and coached at the NHL level with Calgary and Phoenix.

Annie Fowler: 582-1574; @tchicequeen
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