Longtime hockey executive Wren Blair dies at 87
Wren Blair, who helped the Boston Bruins land Bobby Orr and later served as the first coach and general manager of the Minnesota North Stars, died Wednesday in Whitby, Ontario. He was 87.
Blair, a scout for the Bruins, headed the revival of the Oshawa Generals -- and signed Orr, then a 14-year-old phenom, to the Bruins-sponsored team in the fall of 1962. With Orr scoring 94 points in 47 games, the Generals won the Ontario Hockey Association (now the Ontario Hockey League) championship in 1966.
The expansion Minnesota North Stars named Blair their first coach and general manager in 1967. He also coached parts of the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons before stepping down to concentrate on his role as general manager, a job he held through the 1973-74 season. He later served as president and chief operating officer of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1975-76 and 1976-77. He also spent six years as player personnel director for the Los Angeles Kings.
Before coming to the NHL, Blair led the Whitby Dunlops to a pair of Allan Cup titles in Canada as well as the 1958 World Championship in Oslo, Norway.
Blair also founded the Saginaw Gears of the International Hockey League in the 1970s and was instrumental in bringing the North Bay Centennials of the Ontario Hockey League to Saginaw in 2002. The franchise was renamed the Saginaw Spirit, and Blair stayed on as a consultant for the team.