Clare Drake has been inducted into the 2017 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The long-time coach enters in the builders category. The other inductees include Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi, Danielle Goyette and Jeremy Jacobs.
Drake began his tenure at the University of Alberta in 1958.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Stan Marple, general manager of Golden Bears Hockey.
Marple was recruited by Drake back in 1989 to play on the team. He said over the years they developed a friendship and credits Drake with changing the game with his aggressive penalty kill.
“He shared his knowledge of the game with everybody; with Hockey Canada, with coaches that asked him for advice,” Marple said.
Ian Herbers, now an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers, played one season for Drake and later went on to be the Golden Bears’ coach himself. Herbers said Drake was passionate about hockey and always looking to improve. He never wasted a second at practice.
“There was always purpose on what we were doing,” Herbers remembered. “We were out there to improve. He used the ice well. He incorporated his coaches. He got everybody active.”
Pandas hockey coach Howie Draper played for Drake for four seasons in the late 1980s.
“He never yelled at referees. He never yelled at his players. He never swore,” Draper said. “He was always very methodical in the way that he behaved. I think he knew he was the model and that we were looking to him for how best to behave in situations where pressure was high.”
Drake didn’t just coach hockey.
In the 1960s, Marple said Drake coached the hockey team to the national championship as well as the Golden Bears football team to the Vanier Cup.
“He built the cornerstone of our program and had done so much for Hockey Canada and the sport in general. He has influenced so many different coaches.”
The U of A hockey arena was named after him in 1990.
He coached the Golden Bears hockey team for 28 seasons and led the teams to six national championships and 17 conference championships.
Drake was named Canadian Interuniversity Sport, now known as U Sports, and Canada West Coach of the Year four times each.
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When Drake retired from the U of A in 1989, he held the record for the most wins by any coach in U of A history. With 697 victories, he remains the winningest coach in Canadian university hockey history.
Drake also spent two seasons coaching the WHA’s Edmonton Oilers (1975-1976) and helped coach the Canadian men’s Olympic team in 1980.
His coaching resume also included a stint in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas stars where he served as an assistant coach.
In 2013 Drake was named a member of the Order of Canada.
-With files from Reid Wilkins.