Glen Sonmor

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Glen Sonmor
Born (1929-04-22) April 22, 1929 (age 86)
Moose Jaw, SK, CAN
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg; 11 st 11 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for NHL
New York Rangers
Cleveland Barons
St. Louis Flyers
Playing career 1950–1955

Glen Robert Sonmor (born April 22, 1929) is a former professional hockey player, scout and coach.

Early life[edit]

In high school, Sonmor played for Moose Jaw and was a multi-sport star; playing point guard in basketball, quarterback in football and left wing in hockey, as well as pitching in semi-pro baseball.[1] At 5' 10", Sonmor would focus on hockey after graduation and would sign a C form with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League, committing him to the team if he ever turned pro. Sonmor would then play junior hockey with the Guelph Biltmores in the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) and the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL). The 1948–49 Brandon team would go onto win the MJHL championship, defeating the Calgary Buffalos for the Abbott Cup, but would lose in the Memorial Cup championship to the Montreal Royals. Sonmor would lead the way for the Wheat Kings with 18 goals and 30 assists in 30 regular season games and 10 goals and 14 assists in 25 playoff games. The 1948–49 team would be named to the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.[2]

Professional career[edit]

In 1949, Sonmor was sent by Cleveland to the Minneapolis Millers in the United States Hockey League and his play attracted the attention of the parent club. From 1949 to 1954, Sonmor played predominantly for the Barons, but spent the 1951–52 season with the St. Louis Flyers, and recorded consecutive 20-goal seasons.[3]

Sonmor spent part of the 1953–54 season with the National Hockey League (NHL) New York Rangers before Cleveland officially traded him to the team on 15 November 1954 for eventual Hall of Famer Andy Bathgate and Vic Howe. In the NHL, Sonmor was considered a highly physical player known for his fighting abilities, as he recorded only 2 goals in 30 games over the 1953–54 and 1954–55 seasons. On 27 February 1955, Sonmor suffered a career-ending injury to his left eye when he was hit by a slap shot from teammate Steve Kraftcheck.[4] Sonmor's injury came four days after the birth of his daughter Kathy, putting both him and his wife in the hospital at the same time.[5] Later stories of Sonmor's glass eye popping out onto the Minnesota North Stars bench during his coaching career are told by the North Stars' General Manager, Lou Nanne.[6]

Coaching career[edit]

Following his retirement from the NHL, Sonmor was hired to be the freshman hockey coach at the University of Minnesota by longtime coach, and AHL & USHL teammate, John Mariucci. He would then coached a number of amateur hockey teams including various levels in Junior hockey, at the Ohio State University, before return to Minnesota as the vasity coach. Sonmor coached the Golden Gopher Hockey Team from 1966–1971, which included a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular season championship in the 1969–70 season and a WCHA playoff championship in the 1970–71 season.

In 1972, Sonmor moved up to the professional level when he joined the fledgling Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association (WHA) as coach and general manager. In the middle of the season, Sonmor gave up his coaching duties, but continued as GM. After the team folded in 1976, the WHA's Cleveland Crusaders moved to St. Paul and changed their name to the "New Fighting Saints", and Sonmor was hired as the team's coach and general manager. However, the New Saints followed their predecessor and folded in January 1977. Sonmor then went on to coach the WHA's Birmingham Bulls and stayed there through the end of the 1977–78 season. In 1978, Sonmor was named head coach of the NHL North Stars and would go on to coach the team 3 different times (1978–1983, 1984–1985, and 1986–1987). Sonmor's teams made the playoffs four of six full seasons and he led the team to the 1981 Stanley Cup Finals where they lost to the heavily favored New York Islanders (who were in the middle of a four-year run as Stanley Cup champions). However, Sonmor's career with the North Stars was overshadowed by several bar fights, and alcoholism that ultimately led him away time and time again from his coaching duties to enter care unit treatment for alcoholism. He would eventually give up drinking in 1983 after being suspended from the team in January after a particularly bad episode in Pittsburgh.[7] Sonmor stepped down for good two games into the 1986-87 season for health reasons, leaving with a record of 174-161-82 in 417 games during his tenure.[8]

Later life[edit]

Since retiring as a coach, Sonmor has predominantly worked as a radio analyst for University of Minnesota hockey games on the Golden Gopher Radio Network, which includes WCCO-AM. Sonmor is a recipient of an honorary "M" by the University and became an "M Club" Hall of Fame inductee in 2007.[9] From 1994-96, Sonmor was the director of player development for the now defunct Minnesota Moose of the International Hockey League.[10] In 2000, Sonmor was hired by the Minnesota Wild, as a scout evaluating high school talent for the club in preparation for the NHL Entry Draft.[11] On February 3, 2011, the 81-year-old Sonmor announced that he planned to retire from the Gopher broadcast booth following the end of the 2011 season.[12] During a February 18/19 series against the University of Wisconsin, Wally Shaver was joined in the WCCO broadcast booth by injured Gopher forward Zach Budish in lieu of Sonmor. Shortly following the series, it was announced that Sonmor would retire effective immediately, as opposed to finishing the season.[13]

In 2006, Sonmor was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States along with Steve Yzerman, Marcel Dionne, Reed Larson, and Red Berenson.[14]

He is the author, with Ross Bernstein, of the autobiographical Old Time Hockey: Memories and Musings of a Lifetime on Ice.[15]

NHL coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
Minnesota North Stars 1978–79 69 25 34 10 (68) 4th in Adams Missed Playoffs
Minnesota North Stars 1979–80 80 36 28 16 88 3rd in Adams Lost in Conf. Finals
Minnesota North Stars 1980–81 80 35 28 17 87 3rd in Adams Lost in Cup Final
Minnesota North Stars 1981–82 80 37 23 7 93 1st in Norris Lost in Division Semi-Finals
Minnesota North Stars 1982–83 43 22 12 9 (96) 2nd in Norris (suspended indefinitely)
Minnesota North Stars 1984–85 67 22 35 10 (62) 4th in Norris Lost in Division Finals
Minnesota North Stars 1986–87 2 0 1 1 (70) 5th in Norris Missed playoffs
Total 422 177 161 83

WHA coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
Minnesota Fighting Saints 1972–73 59 28 28 3 (79) 4th in West (fired)
Minnesota Fighting Saints 1976–77 42 19 18 5 43 6th in East (team folded)
Birmingham Bulls 1977–78 77 36 41 3 75 6th in WHA Lost in Quarter-Finals


  1. ^ "Vintage Minnesota Hockey". Vintage Minnesota Hockey. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  2. ^ "Teams". Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  3. ^ "Glen Sonmor NHL Statistics". Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  4. ^ Bernstien, Ross. "Old Time Hockey: Memories and Musings of a Lifetime on Ice" pp. 30
  5. ^ "Vintage Minnesota Hockey". Vintage Minnesota Hockey. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  6. ^ Showers, Bob. Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories With Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press; First Edition (October 1, 2007). ISBN 1-59298-197-6
  7. ^ "Vintage Minnesota Hockey". Vintage Minnesota Hockey. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  8. ^ "Glen Sonmor NHL & WHA Hockey Coaching Record". 1929-04-22. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Vintage Minnesota Hockey". Vintage Minnesota Hockey. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  11. ^ "Vintage Minnesota Hockey". Vintage Minnesota Hockey. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  12. ^ "Sonmor hanging up the mic after end of Gophers season". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  13. ^ Augustoviz, Roman. "Budish on air, skating; Sonmor hangs up the microphone early | The Roman Empire". Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  14. ^ Lester Patrick Trophy recipients
  15. ^ Sonmore, Glen and Bernstein, Ross. "Old Time Hockey: Memories and Musings of a Lifetime on Ice", Bernstein Books; (November 2007). ISBN 0-9787809-1-4

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tom Bedecki
Ohio State Head Ice Hockey Coach
Succeeded by
Harry Neale
Preceded by
Harry Howell
Bill Mahoney
Lorne Henning
Head coach of the Minnesota North Stars
Succeeded by
Murray Oliver
Lorne Henning
Herb Brooks