CALGARY - The Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corporation sends their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Larry Popein, a former Flames scout. Popein passed away at the age of 89.
Popein joined the Flames in 1986 as a pro scout, scouting the other NHL teams. He was brought on board by Calgary general manager Cliff Fletcher and his hockey management team of Al MacNeil and Al Coates. The notion of having a scout dedicated to scouting pro teams was only in its infancy and was trendsetting at the time. Larry was instrumental in helping shape the Flames and its players through the late 1980s. Pope was joined by another veteran hockey scout, Gerry McNamara, to form the Flames pro scouting team. "Pope" and "Mac" spent many days on the road, carefully scouting all the NHL teams for possible trades. As part of their work, Pope would "pre-scout" teams the Flames would face in the Stanley Cup playoffs, sharing this this information with both management and head coach Terry Crisp to formulate strategy. Pope and Mac's scouting work during the 1988-89 season was instrumental in the Flames capturing the 1989 Stanley Cup Championship.
In addition to his scouting career, Popein played several seasons of professional hockey. He joined the old Vancouver Canucks of the Pacific Coast League and the Western Hockey League in 1952 from Yorkton, Sask. and was playing in the NHL with the New York Rangers three years later. He played seven seasons and 465 games in the NHL, mostly with the Rangers. After leaving the Rangers, Popein returned to play another nine seasons of minor pro hockey, mostly with Canucks of the Western Hockey League. During the 1967-68 season, Popein was a member of the NHL expansion Oakland Seals, a team coached by former Flames alumnus Bert Olmstead. After his playing days, Larry and and his Joyce continued their professional hockey life, with Larry holding positions as a playing coach, assistant coach and interim coach with the Rangers. He joined the Vancouver Canucks in 1974 as their assistant general manager, a position he held until he joined the Flames in 1986. His time with Vancouver included the Canucks run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1982.
Popein is survived by his wife Joyce and two adult children, all of Kamloops, B.C.