The Ontario Hockey League is deepy saddened by the loss of Wren Blair who passed away Wednesday at the age of 87 at an Oshawa nursing facility.
Recognized with the Bill Long Award in 1997 for Distinguished Service and outstanding contributions to the OHL, Blair was an OHL builder and sparked the rebirth of the Oshawa Generals in 1962-63 and signed future Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr that first season. He served as General Manager of the club through 1965-66 and was instrumental in the drive to raise funds for the Oshawa Civic Auditorium which opened in 1964. Blair won an OHL Championship with the Generals during his final season as GM in 1966.
Blair later formed a group that purchased the Kingston Raiders in 1989-90 renaming the club the Frontenacs where he remained as part of that ownership group through the 1999-2000 season.
In 2002, Blair was a key member in the revitalization of the Saginaw County Event Center and aided in the purchase of the North Bay Centennials to Dick Garber’s ownership group in Saginaw.
"On behalf of Dick Garber and the entire Saginaw Spirit and OHL communities, our hearts are full of sadness at the passing of Wren Blair", said Spirit Managing Partner, President and Governor Craig Goslin. "At the same time, our hearts are full of gratitude as it was our privilege to know him and to be associated with him. He was a true hockey icon that was the catalyst that established the OHL in Saginaw in 2001. Personally, he was a mentor to me as he spent much time over the past decade teaching, advising and sharing his ideals with me. Wren was one of the most passionate people about our game on the planet. He possessed the rare expertise of being highly knowledgeable on how to maximize all opportunities in operating a top hockey franchise off the ice, and how to create a champion on the ice. He dedicated his life to his work in promoting the game of hockey and we all will be forever grateful. His contagious passion for our game, his warm greeting and sincerity will live in the minds and hearts to all of us who knew and loved him."
In addition to his OHL accomplishments, Blair was Coach and Manager of the Whitby Dunlops in the 1950’s, capturing two Allan Cups (1957 and 1959) and a gold medal at the 1958 IIHF Championship. He was also the first Coach and General Manager of the Minnesota North Stars in 1967-68 and coached parts of the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons before settling as General Manager from 1967-68 through 1973-74. His career also included serving as President and Chief Operating Officer (including General Manager) of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1975-76 and 1976-77.
Visitation has been scheduled for Thursday, January 10, from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm, with the Funeral taking place on Friday, January 11, at 1:00 pm at the Oshawa Funeral Home at 847 King Street West in Oshawa, ON.