James Donald "Jimmy" Skinner (January 12, 1917 – July 11, 2007) was the Head Coach, Chief Scout and Farm Director, Director of Player Personnel, Director of Hockey Operations, Assistant General Manager, and General Manager for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League.
He is credited with starting the tradition of kissing the Stanley Cup.
Born in Selkirk, Manitoba, Skinner won the 1955 Stanley Cup as coach as well as the Prince of Wales Trophy twice (54/55 & 56/57) (regular season champions) before an illness forced him to give up his coaching duties. He continued in a series of other managerial duties with the Red Wings finally retiring as General Manager in 1983.
He had an overall NHL coaching record of 123–78–46, and coached three National Hockey League All-Star Games from 1954 to 1958.
Prior to joining the Red Wings, he played for the Selkirk Fishermen, Winnipeg Rangers & the Winnipeg Falcons in his teens. He was offered a contract with New York Rangers but declined the offer and played for the Flin Flon Bombers instead. Jimmie was a defenseman & part-time forward & as a member of the bomber squad won the Sask. Senior Hockey League Championship in 1937/38. He also was playing assistant coach of the Omaha Knights & in one game scored a 45-foot goal after 11 minutes & 19 seconds of an overtime period for a 4-3 victory over the opposing Tulsa Oilers (USHL) in semi-final playoffs. This tied the two teams to 3 games apiece.
As a star defenseman his greatest asset on ice was his body checking ability while maintaining his speed. He was often noted for making a drive singlehandedly down the ice, crossing the blue line & then either hurriedly passing the puck or rifling it at an incredible speed then dashing back to his defense zone. He was interesting to watch as he performed his duties as a player & arbitrator. Jimmie played with the Indianapolis Capitals (playing captain) alongside his brother, Morden Huron Lake "Ducky" Skinner in 1943. Jimmie amassed a multitude of injuries at the end of his playing career & these would follow him for the rest of his life. It was at that time Jack Adams, who had been following his progress, offered him a chance to coach the Windsor Spitfires 1947-53. He had one brief departure in 1951-52 campaign when the Spitfires left Windsor for Hamilton in 1953. It was then he became coach of the Hamilton Red Wings. At the offer of Jack Adams again, at the end of '53 Jimmie became the Detroit Red Wing's rookie Head coach & won the Stanley Cup in 1954/55. In the 1956 season he led Detroit to a first place standing during the regular season before bowing out in the playoffs. Other honours while coaching in Windsor include 1947/48 J.P. McGuire Trophy & 1947/48 Joseph Turner Memorial Cup (Windsor Hettche Spitfires) (IHL). Jimmie was instrumental with his friend Sam Pollock in creating the NHL Entry Draft as it is known today. He served on this committee which also included Stafford Smythe, Tommy Ivan & Clarence Campbell. He conducted 2 NHL coaching/referee schools (Man.Sask.Maritimes) in conjunction with the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association. Jimmie's scouting in Europe enabled many European players to play in Canada/US. Twenty-seven (27) of his junior players became professional hockey players in the N.H.L. International & American Hockey Leagues. A few of these were Glenn Hall, Johnny Wilson, Glen Skov, Al Arbour, and Brian Kilrea. He coached Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Marcel Pronovost, Red Kelly, Alex Delvecchio and Terry Sawchuk, all of whom went on to become Hall of Famers.
James had two brothers, Gordon and Morden (Ducky). After their father James Skinner Sr. died, the three of them inherited "Skinner's" restaurant (established in 1929) located in Lockport, Manitoba, Canada.
While playing hockey in Flin Flon, Jimmie was a left-handed pitcher on the 1938 Flin Flon All Stars/Diamond Ball Championship team as well as the 1940 Zinc Moguls softball championship team.
In 1943 he married Vivian Anna Reynolds (deceased Jan. 11/07). They had four children, Holly, Karen, Tess, and James (Jr). Every off season since 1945 was spent in Manitoba. Jimmie & his family spent their summers at Lester Beach, Manitoba after his retirement.
He was inducted into the Detroit Red Wings Hall of Fame in 1977, a member of the Flin Flon Hockey Hall of Fame & inducted into the Windsor Essex County Sports Hall of Fame as a Founder  in 2006. He was also inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in the "Builder" category in 1986 & is scheduled to be inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame ("Builder") on May 24, 2014.
He died in Windsor, Ontario on July 11, 2007.
Skinner's picture (as well as his brother, Ducky's) has been included in the Indianapolis Historical Society's Sports Section of the Digital Library.(Indianapolis Capitals No. 10. He is also listed in the Manitoba Historical Society. Mr. Skinner also shared his time with the Special Olympics.
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|Detroit Red Wings||1954-55||70||42||17||11||95||1st in NHL||Won Stanley Cup|
|Detroit Red Wings||1955-56||70||30||24||16||76||2nd in NHL||Lost in Cup Finals|
|Detroit Red Wings||1956-57||70||38||20||12||88||1st in NHL||Lost in Semifinals|
|Detroit Red Wings||1957-58||37||13||17||7||(70)||3rd in NHL||stepped down due illness|
|Head coach of the Detroit Red Wings
|General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings