Long, long before he was the legendary coach of Canadian junior hockey, Don Hay put in a decent year of pro hockey with the Philadelphia Firebirds in the NAHL. It was 1976-77, Hay’s last year as a player and the league’s last year of existence.
Don Hay – NAHL
Hay played just one year in the North American Hockey League, 1976-77 with the Philadelphia Firebirds. The Firebirds moved on to the American Hockey League for the 1977-78 season but Don hung up the blades and headed back to British Columbia.
The right winger played the full 74 game schedule for Philadelphia, scoring 20 goals and assisting on 15 for 35 points, while also sitting 96 minutes in the sin bin. He played in all of the Firebirds four playoff games, contributing two assists. After finishing fourth in the eight team league, Philadelphia met up with the Erie Blades in the opening round of the Lockhart Cup playoffs, falling three games to one.
Don Hay – Pro Hockey
After playing two years of junior hockey in the WCHL, 1972-73 with the Calgary Centennials and 1973-74 with the New Westminster Bruins, Hay was drafted into both major hockey leagues. However, he was drafted very deep.
At the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, Don was taken by the Minnesota North Stars in the 12th round, 193rd overall. It got worse at the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft. Hay was taken by the Houston Aeros way down in the 16th round, 230rd overall.
Don played pro hockey from 1974-75 to 1976-77. In his first two years, he bounced around the IHL. In his final year, of course, he spent the full season with the Firebirds.
Don Hay – The Coach
Hay has been coaching hockey since 1986-87, mostly in the WHL. He had a few shots at the National Hockey League, acting as assistant coach of the Calgary Flames in 1995-96, head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996-97 and assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks in 1997-98. He got a chance at the head coaching job with the Flames in 2000-01 but was quickly replaced midseason. Besides a stint as head coach of the Utah Grizzlies in the AHL from 2001-02 to 2003-04, it’s been the WHL all the way.
Five times, Hay has been behind the bench of an Ed Chynoweth Cup champion in the WHL. He was an assistant coach in 1989-90 and 1991-92 for the Kamloops Blazers as they captured the championship. The 1991-92 team went on to win the Memorial Cup tournament. Don was head coach of the Blazers in 1993-94 and 1994-95 as Kamloops won both the Ed Chynoweth Cup and Memorial Cup in both seasons. In 2005-06, he was head coach of the Vancouver Giants team that won the WHL championship.
Don has also twice been the bench boss of Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. In 1995, Canada won gold in Red Deer, Alberta with what many consider to be the best WJC team ever. Canada went undefeated in the round robin only tournament. Hay returned to coach the 2012 Canada team in the WJC tournament jointly held in Calgary and Edmonton. Canada took the bronze medal.
Hay has coached the Vancouver Giants since 2004-05. Besides the Blazers and Giants, Don also had a two year stint with the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.