In Memory of Bill Brown: Former Bulldog Coach one of a kind

This story was written by Doug Kennedy who is currently the North Conference Manager of the Provincial Junior Hockey League.

When you are entrenched in the wonderful world of sports, as an athlete, a coach, an administrator, an official, a media person, or a volunteer, you meet many outstanding people along the way. That certainly applies to the hockey community in Ontario.

I have met so many good people over 40 years of being entrenched in the game, from my days playing Junior B in St. Mary’s to the many years on the hockey operations side with the Kincardine Bulldogs and more recently with the Provincial Junior Hockey League. The last 30-years, Bill Brown has been one of my best friends. Bill passed away a couple weeks ago after a 5-year fight with Cancer. We are the same age, played Junior B {Bill played for Owen Sound Greys} with really good teams. We both played fastball. We both coached hockey and fastball from a young age. It was like we were supposed to meet in the Wingham arena coaching against each other over 30 years ago.

I always told kids that played with the Bulldogs the friends you made playing here would be lifetime friends. My line mates in Junior B {Dunny and Spook} or the people I was involved with on the Kincardine Bulldogs organization to name a few. Or like Bill Brown who was usually part of the opposition for close to 30 years. Bill and I use to take a lot of heat from our respected communities about our friendship. The most popular comment was how can you be that nice to the enemy. Bill and I were way to competitive to let our friendship get in the way of our desire to win.

There were not many Monday mornings that we did not talk about our past weekend with our teams and family. Bills greatest two loves where his family and his two daughters Alison and Julie. “Alison told me this past weekend that her dad was happiest when coaching, scouting, and mentoring young hockey players. It has been wonderful hearing stories and memories from so many people the last two weeks and we look forward to keeping his memory alive”. He was looking forward to when Alisson had her baby in March.

In the mid 90’s the two of us teamed up to coach {Bill} and manage {Doug} the Owen Sound Greys Junior B team. I found it tough to manage a Junior B team the right way living 60 miles away so it was a one-year job for me. Bill continued on to build the Greys into a winning organization.

In his many years of coaching and managing teams in his hometown of Wingham he built up many friendships but none bigger than his bond with one of his players Kyle Wheeler. Kyle said “Bill was a big supporter of local talent who he saw potential in.” Kyle feels with Bills passing there will be a lot of local players that will not get the opportunities to advance to the levels that Bill always advocated for”. Bill coached Kyle for 7 seasoned in minor hockey and junior. “Kyle said Bill was a competitor who wanted his teams to win. It was this type of coaching strategy that made him successful with several teams he coached, whether it was strategy that made him successful with several teams he coached, whether it was Minor, Junior, or summer hockey. The skills Bill taught were not just for sports but for life. If you want to be successful one must work hard, be smart, have a game plan, be disciplined, and be motivated to win. All things Bill Preached. “Kyle and I share one thought and that was Bill always brought a smile to your face and everyone around him. “Kyle knows several coaches that Bill got started and helped advance in hockey.”

As well as being involved in running a Junior hockey franchise that was not enough as he started scouting in the OHL. The first team her scouted for was the Ottawa 67’s. I would jump in and go to the odd game with him, but he would spend most weekends in the winter at AAA tournaments somewhere in the province.

After a few years with Ottawa, he stepped away for a couple years but that love for the game draw him back to scout for the Windsor Spitfires. I would have met him in Goderich, and we would head to Windsor to watch some OHL playoff games. He was part of two Memorial Cup Champions in Windsor and one OHL Championship in Ottawa. I got to meet Brian Kilrey when we went to Ottawa games and DJ Smith, Warren Ryclet and Bob Boughner when we were in Windsor. I could of went to both Memorial cups with Bill in Quebec and our West I did not. I wish I had to decide that over again.

Two of his best friends from the OHL where Murray Hiebert [former manager past–head Scout-Kitchener Rangers} and Terry Uniac {Long-time Junior A scout and Junior B coach in the Stratford and area.}

He coached Exeter in the old Junior D league to an all-Ontario championship. One of his old players Bentley Dundas from St. Mary’s called Bill a player’s coach. Bentley said they had an older team in Exeter that year and a number of players had Junior B experience. Bill would let us have fun off the ice but made sure when we went to the rink for games or practices, he was able to push the right buttons and get the most out of us. Bentley said there was a lot of fun memories of Brownie on and off the ice. He said he will never forget that smile and laugh”.

Kincardine Bulldogs GM Warren Beisel worked hand in hand with and against Bill over the last 20 years. “Bill had a very unique personality and never shied away from a good time. Bills passion for sports was unquestionable, however his love for people and a desire to get to know and impact as many people as he could be unfathomable. What made Bill so special to me is that he took a keen interest in both my kid’s daily lives, he would always ask. How is Jordan or what is Casey up to? He really cared and an interest in them. At times Bill was a father figure for me-he always had advice whether I agreed with his opinion or not. Bill always put everyone’s happiness as a priority, a truly special man with a big heart. I am so very thankful to have had him a big part of my family’s life.