Clare Drake named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Legendary Golden Bears coach receives one of Canadian hockey's highest honours.


(Edmonton) Legendary University of Alberta hockey coach Clare Drake was named today to the Order of Hockey in Canada for his outstanding contributions to the sport of hockey.

Drake, along with fellow 2014 inductees France St-Louis and Steve Yzerman, will be celebrated at the Hockey Canada Foundation Celebrity Classic June 23–24 in Vancouver. They join such hockey luminaries as Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Mark Messier, Dave King and Paul Henderson.

It is the second national honour bestowed upon Drake in as many years. In 2013, he was appointed a member of the Order of Canada.

The longtime Edmonton resident has coached hockey at various levels in Canada, including with the Edmonton Oilers when the team was part of the Western Hockey Association, and with the Canadian national team. Drake has influenced countless coaches, players and modern coaching disciplines at all levels of the sport. He is most renowned for having coached U of A Golden Bears hockey, the most successful men’s university hockey program in Canada. As the Bears’ bench boss for 28 years (1958–1975, 1976–79, 1980–1983 and 1984–1989), “Coach” Clare Drake recorded 697 wins, which still stands as a Canadian university record, against 296 losses and 37 ties, for a .695 winning percentage.

He won six national championships as coach of the Bears hockey program, and he earned a national championship trophy in 1967 as head coach of the U of A football program. In fact, Drake won two championships that season as his hockey team won the Canadian university title in the winter following the football team’s victory. He also won a championship as a player with the U of A in 1954.

He twice was honoured as Canadian university coach of the year, and he won the Canada West conference coach of the year award four times. On top of the six national championships, Drake also guided the Bears to 17 Canada West championships. He also served as the co-coach of Canada’s 1980 Olympic hockey team and guided Canada’s teams to gold at the Winter Universiade and a Spengler Cup tournament.

His list of coaching awards also includes the 3M Gordon Juckes Award from Hockey Canada and the Geoff Gowan Award from the Coaching Association of Canada. He has received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the U of A, as well as the U of A’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Alberta Order of Excellence. He is a member of the U of A, UBC, Edmonton, Alberta and Canadian sports halls of fame and is a honorary member-for-life of the Alberta Football Coaches Association.

The list of prominent Canadian hockey people that Drake has influenced includes NHL Stanley Cup championship coaches, and Canadian Olympic gold medalist coaches, Mike Babcock and Ken Hitchcock, as well as Hockey Hall of Fame member, and six-time Stanley Cup champion Glenn Anderson.

Upon Drake's retirement in 1989, the U of A dedicated Varsity Arena in his honour and renamed it Clare Drake Arena in 1990.

Drake was also a gifted educator who for many years was a professor in the U of A's Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. He wrote numerous research articles on the technical aspects of hockey, lent his expertise to a variety of educational hockey films and videos, and provided enlightened leadership to Hockey Canada’s coach education initiatives. His writings formed the basis of hockey’s first national coaching certification program, and he has supported its delivery through innumerable clinics and conferences at home and throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. He is also a developer of the National Coach Mentorship Program, a committed mentor and a hands-on university coach, often referred to as the “dean” of Canadian intercollegiate hockey coaches.