Bisons hockey has honoured the late Wayne Fleming by renaming the Max Bell Centre and creating the Wayne Fleming Legacy Athletic Scholarship on Oct. 4.
"He was an exceptional coach, teacher, mentor, and friend," said Mike Sirant, head coach of the men’s hockey team. "It was Wayne’s vision and his passion, his determination, and his work that laid the foundation for the success of Bisons hockey that current players and staff are benefitting from today."
Fleming, born and raised in Snow Lake, Man., played four years with the Bisons while earning his degree in physical education and then certificate of education. After graduating, Fleming was assistant coach, then head coach of the Bisons men’s hockey team for nine seasons.
After years of coaching in Europe, the NHL, and for Team Canada, Fleming passed away on March 25 after a battle with brain cancer.
"He’s got a coaching resume that very few could match," said Sirant. "He was the kind of guy who never forgot his Manitoba roots, and he continued to be a strong supporter of Bisons Hockey and Hockey Manitoba."
Mike Sirant announced the arena name change and team captain Dane Crowley as the first recipient of the scholarship.
"The criteria for the selection is that it is a player that best exemplifies Wayne’s characteristics, and Dane is such a fitting winner of this award because of the qualities that he has that are so similar to Wayne’s," said Sirant. "His leadership ability, his passion for the game, his work ethic, his competitiveness, and his commitment to his team and teammates."
Crowley is also a very strong player — he was picked up in the sixth round of the 2006 NHL draft and has been named a Canada West All-Star three times, said Sirant.
"He’s a very strong leader," said Sirant. "By leading by example on the ice, in practices, games, in the weight room, and also in the dressing room. He’s a very strong, vocal, highly respected team leader."
Crowley, a defenceman in his fifth year with the Bisons, said he is honoured to receive the award.
"He was a great person and did a lot for this organization and to receive the first award, it’s very humbling."
Sirant said the plan will be to play more defensively this year.
"Maybe we aren’t as explosive offensively as we were in past seasons but we’ve got a very hard-working team that’s going to be tough to play against," said Sirant.
Crowley agrees, saying his team has a slightly different makeup after losing some players in the spring. Work ethic, he says, will be key.
"We’ll have a different team, but a hard-working team," said Crowley. "That is where our mindset is. Just hard work, hard work, hard work, and that’s where we’re going to beat our opponents."
Fleming was assistant coach and general manager of the 1990-1993 Canadian National Team, which won a silver medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. He coached in Europe for several years, then upon returning moved on to the National Hockey League and was associate coach of the Team Canada squad that won gold for the first time in 50 years at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. He finished his career in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.