KELLY MCCRIMMON has made a living as a hockey executive, carving out a reputation as a shrewd businessman and demanding coach but on Wednesday he was just a little brother.
The owner and GM of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, along with the rest of the McCrimmon family, were mourning the death of longtime NHLer Brad McCrimmon on Wednesday.
"Brad was my hero," answered an emotional McCrimmon when asked what he would remember about his brother. "We were a year apart. We grew up together and did everything together. We were a close family and I was his biggest fan. I mean that."
The McCrimmon boys grew up in Plenty, Sask., before hockey took them off the farm. Brandon was a touchstone for the brothers as Brad made a name there as one of the best junior players in the country and Kelly followed in his footsteps, joining the Wheaties where they were teammates for the 1978-79 season under the tutelage of legendary junior coach Dunc McCallum.
"Brad was a man's man and a true pro. He never judged and he found the good in people," said McCrimmon. "He was confident and humble and he had a good heart."
Kelly McCrimmon moved into management, eventually purchasing the Wheat Kings and has an eye for talent.
"Brad was a very successful pro but before that he was a tremendous junior with excellent Wheat Kings teams in Brandon," said McCrimmon. "He was a top player at his position in the NHL and then became an excellent and respected coach."
McCrimmon says he'll remember his brother for his family contributions more than those he made on the ice.
"Brad was a meat and potatoes guy," he said. "He didn't seek praise or notoriety. His work and his family were his life. He was a solid man and not prone to emotional outbursts. His daughter Carlyn, 21, and his son Liam, 14, were so important to him. He was an excellent father and husband to Maureen. He loved them so much."