DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nick Polano, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 78.
Polano spent three seasons as the head coach and assistant general manager of the Red Wings from 1983-85. He served solely as the team's assistant general manager for seven additional seasons from 1985-92. As part of a front office led by Jim Devellano and Bryan Murray, the Red Wings transitioned from a team that had missed the playoffs in 12-of-13 seasons (1970-83) to a team that qualified for the playoffs in seven of the next nine seasons. That stretch included three regular-season Norris Division championships (1988, 1989 and 1992) as well as the first two seasons of what would become 25-consecutive playoff berths for the franchise from 1991-2016.
"Nick Polano was hired by Jim Devellano shortly after my parents, Mike and Marian Ilitch, purchased the team in 1982," said Red Wings Governor, President and CEO Christopher Ilitch. "He played an important role in Red Wings history during his time with the club and his many contributions helped propel the franchise into a perennial Stanley Cup contender. On behalf of the Detroit Red Wings, Marian Ilitch and myself, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time."
Polano later served in the scouting departments for the Calgary Flames (1993-00) and Ottawa Senators (2002-15) and was a regular visitor to Joe Louis Arena in the final years of his career, as he was based in metro Detroit. A defenseman in his playing days, Polano enjoyed a 15-season professional career spent in the minor leagues, playing primarily in the American Hockey League (614 games), but totaling 994 combined regular-season and postseason games as a professional from 1959-74.
Nick is survived by Elva, his wife of 56 years; their two children, Michael and Jodi; and two granddaughters, Jordan and Jenna.