Detroit Red Wings
Clear Bag Policy Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

Former Wings coach Kromm dies

First Wings' Adams Trophy winner had big impact

Friday, 06.11.2010 / 1:12 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
Share with your Friends

Former Wings coach Kromm dies
In order to view this page you need JavaScript and Flash Player 9+ support!
DETROIT – Bill Lochead, who is remembered for scoring one of the biggest goals in Red Wings’ history, paid tribute Friday morning to his former coach Bobby Kromm, who died Wednesday from complications of colon cancer. He was 82.

“He gave hockey a real boost in Detroit,” Lochead said. “And I owe him for restoring my confidence.”

Kromm coached the Red Wings between 1977-80. But it was Kromm’s first season in Detroit that is monumentally considered as his best for guiding the team’s 37-point improvement in the standings from the previous season. And for his efforts, he became the first Wings’ coach to earn the Jack Adams Thophy as the NHL’s coach of the year.

Lochead, a native of Forest, Ontario, and a former first-round draft pick, struggled in his first four seasons with the Red Wings. But under Kromm’s tutelage a 23-year-old Lochead began to flourish on a scoring line with Dale McCourt and Paul Woods.

“It was a nice, refreshing thing, I think, for our whole team to have a coach come in and want to blend the speed and skill with the toughness,” said Lochead, who enjoyed his only 20-goal NHL season in 1977-78.

“That’s why we had that successful season,” he said.

The Red Wings finished with a 32-34-14 record, and returned to the Stanley Cup playoffs after a seven-year absence. They faced the Atlanta Flames in an opening round best-of-three series, before falling to the Canadiens in the second round.

“Going into the playoffs, if there was one team who was supposed to upset Montreal that year, it was Atlanta,” Lochead recalled. “So it wasn’t like we beat a softy in the first round.”

In Kromm’s first season, the Red Wings showed vast improvement over the previous year, scoring 69 more goals, while allowing 42 fewer goals-against. They went from having two 20-goal scorers (Walt McKechnie and Michel Bergeron) in 1976-77 to four (McCourt, Lochead, Andre St. Laurent and Nick Libett) in 1977-78.

“Bobby came in and took our strengths and played to our strengths,” Lochead said. “And he got everything out of the team that I think was possible.”

Prior to joining the Red Wings, Kromm enjoyed a successful coaching run with the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association. There, he coached the Jets – with such notables as Bobby Hull, Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg – over the New England Whalers in the 1976 championship.

Winning was a habit for Kromm, who also coached the Dallas Black Hawks to the Central Hockey League finals five times, which resulted in a pair of championships (1969 and ’74).

“He came in and had an upbeat scale of hockey,” Lochead said. “I don’t want to say that he was ahead of his time, but after being with Winnipeg with the two Swedes and Bobby Hull I think he made it a prime part of his concept. That was to a large part how we beat Atlanta, and for that matter, how we made it a series with Montreal.”

In the playoffs, the Wings traveled to Atlanta and defeated the Flames, 5-3, in Game 1. Two days later in Detroit, a raucous record-setting crowd of 16,671 fans at Olympia Stadium was prepared to celebrate the Wings’ first playoff series victory since 1966.

Lochead says that’s when he received the most poignant pep talk of his career.

“I remember very clearly, like it was yesterday,” he said. “I was just going into the wash room between pre-game skate and the start of the game, and (Kromm) came by me and very confidently said, ‘Bill, you’re going to have the best game in your life.’ And then he patted me on the shoulders.

“I don’t know how you would say it, but it just kind of went into me. It gave me the motivation and the confidence that, ‘Yeah, I’m going to.’ It was something very subtle, but it had a big impact.”

Lochead scored two goals in Wings’ 3-2 win in Game 2, including the game-winner that beat Flames goalie Dan Bouchard late in the third period.

A knee injury the next season cut Lochead’s career short. But not before he had established a cult following among Wings’ fans, thanks, in part, to a coach’s encouraging words.
Kromm is survived by his wife, Geraldine; children, David, Robin, Richard and Michelle, and eight grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are being held by Fred Wood Funeral Home, located at 31600 Five Mile Road in Livonia, Michigan. Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Sunday. A funeral service is planned for 11:30 a.m. Monday, June 14 at the funeral home.




1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47


D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89