Keith Allen, first Flyers head coach, longtime GM, dies at 90

Allen coached the Flyers to first in their division in their first season. (
Allen coached the Flyers to first in their division in their first season. (

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The Philadelphia Flyers lost a franchise icon on Tuesday when the franchise's first head coach and former general manager Keith Allen died. He was 90 years old.

Allen actually joined the Flyers the year before they played their first game and served as their head coach from Day 1. In that first season the Flyers won the West Division. Allen remained behind the bench until 1970.

He also took over the role of general manager starting in 1969 and held that title for the next 14 years. He was instrumental in building the roster that won a pair of Stanley Cups for the Flyers in 1974 and 1975, the only two titles in Flyers history.

"Keith was the first coach in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers and a man for whom I have tremendous respect," Philadelphia Flyers Chairman Ed Snider said in a release. "In my mind, he was and always will be one of the greatest General Managers in the history of hockey. He was known as 'Keith the Thief,' I never knew of a bad deal he made. This team would never have reached the level of success we have had over the past 48 years if it were not for Keith.

"Over the years he became one of my closest confidants and one of my best friends. I will never forget all of the many memories we shared together." added Snider. "I would like to extend my condolences to Keith's family, his wife Joyce, their sons, Brad and Blake, and their daughter, Traci, and their four grandchildren, Chelsea, Shay, Jillian, and Chase. He will sorely be missed by all of us."

You won't find many people in hockey who didn't have the utmost respect for Allen. That includes Jody Clarke, the daughter of Flyers great Bobby Clarke.

Commissioner Gary Bettman also released a statement on behalf of the league.

"Keith Allen always found a way to bring exceptional talent to Broad Street and weave it into the fabric of a team that would succeed and endure at the highest level, because in Philadelphia, for his Flyers and their fans, no other level was acceptable.

"The National Hockey League sends heartfelt condolences to Keith's family, to his friends and to the Flyers organization, which has lost one of its patriarchs."

Allen was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 as part of the Builders category.

As a player, Allen only appeared in 28 career NHL games, with the Red Wings in 1953-54 and 54-55. He didn't score a goal but did have four assists as a defenseman.

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