Former Red Wings coach Wayne Maxner dies at age 80

Detroit News

Maxner coached the Red Wings from 1980-1982 with a career record of 34-68-26 in 129 games, a winning percentage of .368. His winning percentage and victories during the team’s pre-Stanley Cup championship years ranks 15th among Detroit coaches with at least 100 regular-season games behind the bench.

After only 20 games as coach of Detroit’s AHL farm team in Adirondack in 1980, Maxner replaced Red Wings coach Ted Lindsay on Nov. 25, 1980 and led the team to a record of 16-29-15 for 47 points in 60 games. He was fired on March 8, 1982 after posting a record of 18-39-12 for 48 points in 69 games.

Born on Sept. 27, 1942 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Maxner was the leading scorer for the Niagara Falls Flyers in 1962-63 in the Ontario Hockey Association (the OHL’s predecessor). He earned the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as league MVP with 32 goals and 62 assists in 50 games on a team which was affiliated with the Boston Bruins and featured future NHLers Terry Crisp, Gary Dornhoefer, Don Awrey and Derek Sanderson.

Maxner, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound left winger, played two years with the Bruins from 1964-1966 and scored eight goals with nine assists in 61 career games. His first NHL goal was on New York Rangers goalie Marcel Paille in Boston’s 3-3 tie at Boston Garden on Dec. 5, 1964.

After a 10-year pro career with the WHL’s San Francisco and California Seals, the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Montreal Voyageurs and Springfield Kings and the EHL’s Long Island Ducks, Maxner began his coaching career with the QMJHL’s Hull Festivals for one season in 1974-75 and then four seasons with the OHL Windsor Spitfires.

In 1979-80, Maxner led the Spitfires to the league final before losing to Mike Keenan’s Peterborough Petes, a team which featured future Hall of Famer and ex-Red Wings defenseman Larry Murphy. Maxner also coached the OHL Sudbury Wolves and London Knights before returning to Windsor from 1991-1993.

Maxner’s cause of death is unknown. He is survived by his son Wayne, daughter Shelley and stepdaughters Leigh and Averil.

Maxner’s ashes will be returned to Halifax where he first learned to skate on Chocolate Lake. The family requests donations be made to Huron Hospice through Falconer Funeral Home in Clinton.

Winning percentage of Wings coaches in regular season*

1. Dave Lewis (.672)

2. Scotty Bowman (.656)

3. Tommy Ivan (.653)

4. Mike Babcock (.649)

5. Jimmy Skinner (.591)

6. Bryan Murray (.568)

7. Johnny Wilson (.538)

8. Jack Adams (.512)

9. Jacques Demers (.502)

10. Sid Abel (.501)

11. Jeff Blashill (.447)

12. Bobby Kromm (.431)

13. Alex Delvecchio (.400)

14. Nick Polano (.400)

15. Wayne Maxner (.368)*List includes Detroit coaches with at least 100 regular-season wins from 1926-2023. Dave Lewis ranked No. 1 with only 169 games. Jack Adams coached the most games at 964. Mike Babcock had the most wins at 458. Current coach Derek Lalonde has a winning percentage of .488 after 82 games.

Number of victories by Wings coaches in regular season*

1. Mike Babcock (458)

2. Jack Adams (413)

3. Scotty Bowman (410)

4. Sid Abel (340)

5. Tommy Ivan (262)

6. Jeff Blashill (204)

7. Jacques Demers (137)

8. Bryan Murray (124)

9. Jimmy Skinner (123)

10. Dave Lewis (100)

11. Alex Delvecchio (82)

12. Nick Polano (79)

13. Bobby Kromm (79)

14. Johnny Wilson (67)

15. Wayne Maxner (34)

*List includes Detroit coaches with at least 100 regular-season wins from 1926-2023.

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