Adirondack move hits home from Flames’ Webster
CALGARY, AB -- A move to Glens Falls, NY for the American Hockey League affiliate has hit home for at least one member of the Calgary Flames.
It is where amateur scout Tom Webster got his start in coaching, after all.
“Unbelievable,” Webster said from his home in Windsor, ON. “It was so exciting and exhilarating for them to have a hockey team there.”
With a storied playing career winding down in the Detroit Red Wings organization during the 1979-80 season, Webster was assigned by Detroit to the Adirondack Red Wings in the hopes to recapture some of the game that saw the Kirkland Lake, ON product score 220 goals and 425 points in 352 World Hockey Association games and another 33 goals and 75 points in 102 National Hockey League games.
Instead, Webster’s reassignment had him embark on a new career path altogether.
“Boy, I thought I was still a player,” Webster said. “Wow. When I think back the way it was, the preparation and everything else that goes into it now.
“It was nice of Ted Lindsay. I returned to the NHL and unfortunately I wasn’t very good when I got back and Ted, a good ol’ Kirkland Lake boy where I was from, asked me to go to the minors and play and see if I could get it back and when I was down there.
“There was only one coach -- Bill Purcell at the time. He needed a lot of help so Ted asked me to help him out and low and behold, Ted got let go and Ned Harkness asked me to stay on to be the head coach and that’s how it started. They showed some faith in me and that’s how I got into the coaching end of it and ended up taking there and had a 25-year run as a coach in different positions from head coach to assistant coach to a co-coach.
“That’s probably the best move I’ve made.”
Webster went on to coach both the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings -- the remaining two franchises in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s won titles with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League and the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League.
But Adirondack is where it all started for Webster.
“Of course, the big driving force behind that was Ned, who did his best to convince first of all Detroit to put their farm team in there and then the marketing they did in the community, the support behind it, it was just phenomenal,” Webster said. “They sold the building out every game. It was the happening thing for everybody to do.
“The players themselves just loved it but who couldn’t? You’ve got Lake George close by. You’ve got different things you can do in the state of New York. It was phenomenal.”
Now, Calgary’s AHL affiliate is as close to Webster as it’s ever been.
He plans to take advantage, and reminisce about his time spend where he stepped behind the bench for the first time.
“I’m thinking to myself ‘what a great spot,” Webster said. “I’m going to go down there and visit the farm team as much as I can’ because I enjoyed it so much and show my support for the community now. It was the place I got started. It is very close and dear to my heart.”