MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Funeral services will be held next week for Wren Blair, the first coach and general manager of the expansion Minnesota North Stars, who died at 87 this week.
Blair died Wednesday at his home in Whitby, Ontario. He was remembered fondly as being the right person at the right time when the NHL brought the North Stars to hockey-crazy Minneapolis in the late 1960s.
"Wren was really flamboyant, he was outgoing, he was gregarious, he was demonstrative," said Lou Nanne, who played for Blair and later became the North Stars coach and general manager. "He loved hockey, and his players, and working with the game."
Former Stars defenseman Tom Reid recalled Blair was not the best skater around but made his presence known on the practice rink and behind the bench.
"He was a character, he really was," Reid told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "The things he used to do on the bench and in the dressing room were crazy."
Blair remained with the Stars until 1974. He went on to become president of the Pittsburgh Penguins and player personnel director of the Los Angeles Kings.
His ability to spot young hockey talent was demonstrated in 1962 when he signed 14-year-old Bobby Orr to a team sponsored by the Boston Bruins.