Memories of McCrimmon bring smiles every time

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:40 AM ET

CALGARY - Mention Brad McCrimmon to anybody who met him and watch for the smile.

Almost every time, it’ll be on everybody’s face.

“That’s because anyone he talked to has fond memories of Beast,” said Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

“He brought a smile to all the people he touched.”

The Flames honoured McCrimmon prior to Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, remembering the defenceman who was part of the team’s 1989 Stanley Cup-winning squad and a former captain and assistant coach in Calgary.

McCrimmon died in the Sept. 7, 2011, plane crash that killed nearly everybody involved with the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl club.

Every Flames player wore a jersey with “McCrimmon” and the No. 4 on their backs in the warm-up — the sweaters will be auctioned off for charity — and also had decals with “4 BRAD” on their helmets.

And it was fitting on a night with McCrimmon’s parents and family on hand, the Red Wings were in town, being another club McCrimmon played for and coached.

The night included another twist, a moment of applause instead of silence, appropriate for the man who tried to find laughter in everything.

“I heard a million stories from him, and all of them made me laugh,” said Wings defenceman Brad Stuart.

“You could tell he missed playing because he loved to be around the boys. I think that drove him to coach.”

The Flames acquired McCrimmon prior to the 1987-88 season and he spent three seasons in Calgary, his final as team captain.

After retiring in 1997, he became an assistant coach, first with the New York Islanders before joining the Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and finally Detroit.

He left to be a head coach in the KHL.

He may be gone, but McCrimmon left a legacy.

“He always loved to walk around with no shirt. He was a pretty hairy guy and he would just throw a skimpy towel on and walk from the shower (to the coaches offices),” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla.

“Guys would give it to him, but he loved it and would do it more. He was a character.”

Lidstrom, the six-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defenceman, had McCrimmon as a playing partner his first season — 1991-92 — and to this day relishes how McCrimmon and his wife, Maureen, took care of him and his now-wife, Annika.

“He and Maureen took care of us off the ice and he took care of me on the ice,” Lidstrom said.

IN THE CREASE

Tim Hortons unveiled its Flames donuts, but the tasty treat isn’t a traditional donut making an ‘O’. Maybe, as one smart-aleck wag said, the donuts “are like the team, no centres.” Create your own joke about them being cream-filled ... So, no Tomas Holmstrom because his creaky knees were swollen due to injections. That meant Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff didn’t have Holmstrom “accidentally” falling on him the usual five or six times ... Props to Wings forward Justin Abdelkader for eventually getting up after being nailed in the foot by an Iginla blast. Abdelkader later tried to block another Iginla shot ... The Flames lone healthy scratch was D Anton Babchuk for the fourth straight game.

OFF THE GLASS

How’s that for a change? Flames Tim Jackman gives blood like no one in memory, but it’s Detroit’s Mike Commodore leaking from the face after a first-period fight ... Another game, another Flames player injured. Lee Stempniak left in the first period due to a “lower-body” injury ... Not often you see a stick, broken at that, caught in a player’s sweater, let alone that player skate from one end of the ice and almost back without noticing as was the case for Wings forward Jan Mursak ... The Flames had best learn how to close out games against good teams when they’re tied in the third period.


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