Hall Of Fame Profile

Hall Of Fame Profile

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Keith Allen

Induction into Flyer Hall Of Fame - March 1989

Induction into Hockey Hall Of Fame - Sept. 1992

Keith Allen's 54-55 Rookie Card

If you had to pick one individual most responsible for the success of the Philadelphia Flyers throughout the years, you'd probably have to choose Keith Allen. From being named as the Flyers' first ever coach to building championship teams as General Manager, Keith Allen has made the Flyers into one of the premier teams in all of professional sports.
Allen as a player
Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on August 21, 1923, Keith, nicknamed "Bingo" started his life in professional hockey as a minor league player in the Detroit Red Wings farm system. From 1943 to 1953 he played most of the time in the AHL, in Buffalo, Springfield and Syracuse. It was during the 1953-54 season that Allen finally got his chance at the big time. Keith played 10 games with the Wings that year (getting 4 assists, 2 of those assists coming on goals by Gordie Howe), but more importantly he played more games in the playoffs, helping the Wings to a Stanley Cup title. He would end up playing 18 more games the following season with Detroit, not getting any points. With his playing career nearing an end, Keith accepted the position as player-coach with the Seattle in 1956-57. He retired from playing at the end of that season, but remained as coach. Having a limited budget, Keith would become a man of many duties in his 10 years in Seattle. He would add the titles of General Manager (in 65-66), bookkeeper and publicist to his resume. Allen would lead his team to the championship in 1958-59 and would be named as the first recipient of The Hockey News' Minor League Executive of the Year Award in 1959-60.
When the Flyers were awarded an expansion franchise, the Flyers' first GM wisely selected Keith as their first ever coach. They used Allen's knowledge of minor league players in the expansion draft thus enabling the Flyers to get Bernie Parent, Joe Watson and Gary Dornhoefer. In the Flyers first year the Spectrum's roof was damaged and they had to play almost all the last half season on the road. Allen was able to get a lot out of his young players, stressing defense. It worked and Allen coached his young team to first place in the conference. Their first round battle against St.Louis was literally just that - a battle. Allen was fined for the many fights that occurred and Blues coach Scotty Bowman was quoted at the time that he was thinking about giving up coaching forever. After another year of coaching the Flyers felt they need more of a taskmaster behind the bench and replaced Allen with Vic Stasiuk. But the Flyers didn't want to lose Allen. They made him an Assistant General Manager to Bud Poile. But it wasn't long after that when the Flyers saw a rift growing between their GM and players. They knew they had a great replacement in hand, so on Dec 22, 1969 they named Keith Allen as their new GM.
Keith - 1st ever Flyers coach in 1967
"Keith the Thief"- 2nd Flyers GM
Keith's minor league knowledge came in handy when he picked up career minor league defenseman Barry Ashbee less than a year into his tenure. But Keith's popularity plummeted when Bernie Parent was sent packing early in 1971. When youngster Rick MacLeish was slow to develop cries of "Benedict Allen" filled the Spectrum. But things were beginning to change. Allen hired a career minor league coach with no NHL experience. That coach, Fred Shero, started the turn around. Early in 1972 Keith traded an entire forward line plus a defenseman (Serge Bernier, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Lesuk & Larry Brown) for another forward line and a defenseman (Bill Flett, Ed Joyal, Ross Lonsberry & Jean Potvin). This provided a major step towards what was to become a championship team. That same year he became the first ever NHL GM to hire an assistant coach, Mike Nykoluk. With trades that gave him the nickname of "Keith the Thief", shrewd draft choices and great coaching choices culminated in Stanley Cup champions in 1974 and again in 1975. In that first cup winner the makeup of the roster was 9 drafted, 6 via trade, 3 free agents.
Allen always had the ability to choose players that would fit in the coach's style. When Shero left, Allen continued to acquire players that fit into the new coach's mold. With Pat Quinn as the new Flyers coach, the team pulled off a 35 game unbeaten streak. Allen was named The Hockey News' NHL Executive of the Year and was later named the co-winner of the Lester Patrick Award for service to US hockey, along with Flyers owner Ed Snider and player Bobby Clarke. Even in changing times he was able to adapt, having signed several free agents (Kerr, Kindrachuk, Froese and Poulin) when free agent signings were still relatively uncommon. Keith had solid drafts for years, despite usually having late picks due to the teams success But the team began to slip a bit after the 1979-80 season, as did their success at the draft table. But more significantly they were worried about losing their new coach, Bob McCammon to Pittsburgh. Selflessly Allen stepped down, putting the team ahead of himself and allowed McCammon to take over. The Flyers compiled a 563-322-194 record during Allen's reign, with 2 championships and 4 finals appearances. Even after his days as GM were over, he guidance was invaluable to McCammon and later Bob Clarke in their GM duties. He has served as executive vice president for the Flyers now for over a decade and has earned the respect of everyone in the game of hockey, earning a spot in both the Flyers' and Hockey's Hall of Fame.
Keith Allen - executive VP

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