Joy of game was beloved Doc's prescription for success

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Doc Seaman's passion for winning is well known.

In his last game of gin with Ken King and Alvin Libin, the Calgary Flames part-owner teamed with GM Darryl Sutter and took his opponents for eight bucks.

"For him it was worth $8 million, because of the joy of competition," recalled King yesterday as the Flames reminisced on the loss of the 86-year-old.

"The joy of winning."

But wanting to win never changed Seaman into one of those owners who had to have his hands in everything to do with his team.

He made the occasional appearance in the locker-room over the years, usually to shake the hand of a coach or player while offering congratulations or a kind word of encouragement.

It's a far cry from the stories you hear out of places like Toronto and Tampa, where ownership issues have contributed to instability.

Here in Calgary, it's been the key to success.

"When you're a hockey fan, and you own a hockey team, I think for many people there's a great temptation to want to meddle," said King, the Flames president.

"He's one of the few that probably had a right to, based on his knowledge and his skills, but he didn't."

Seaman could quote stats on all the team's prospects.

He took an active interest in every level of hockey. And when he did decide to pay a visit to the NHL players on his payroll, he always did it with a smile.

"When he used to come down -- he didn't come down much this year -- he's always enjoying himself," said Flames veteran Craig Conroy.

"He's always got a smile on his face.

"Everything was always so positive. He made everyone around him feel better."

Even though his passion remained more of an internal fire, the players got a sense of what he was about from stories passed down from others in the ownership group and former coaches.

"It is nice, as players, to have that contact, to see the ownership group and see that they are passionate about hockey," said current captain Jarome Iginla. "As a young group of guys, he's definitely someone you looked up to. He was a great example for us."

The bad news was stunning to Iginla, who last saw Seaman around the holidays.

"He was active, looked strong and in a good mood. Happy with the way the team was going," said Iginla.

"It was surprising news for us as players."

The team's first coach, Al McNeil, made the move from Atlanta and immediately discovered the joy of the new ownership.

"There was an accountability all the time, but never was he hard to handle or hard to be with," said McNeil, who has remained a part of the team even after Bob Johnson took over head coaching duties in 1982.

"He was a great owner in the sense he let the guys he hired do their jobs."


Videos

Photos