BIRTHPLACE: Ottawa, Canada
BORN: September 19, 1921
DIED: September 19, 2008
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: RPI, Cornell University, Union College
Remembered as one of American hockey's true founding fathers, Ned Harkness established and served hockey programs, organizations and facilities on many levels for more than four decades. Born in Ontario, Harkness became a naturalized American citizen in 1949. One year later he founded the varsity hockey program at Troy, New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and guided the Engineers to a NCAA championship within the program's first half-decade. Harkness coached RPI to a 5-4 overtime win over Minnesota in the 1954 national championship game and led his Engineers to the Eastern championship in 1961.
In 1963, Harkness took over the coaching reins at Cornell, and launched the Big Red on a memorable string of successes. Under his guidance, Cornell won NCAA titles in 1967 and 1970, while finishing second in 1969 and third in 1968. He was also named national coach of the year in '68. During his eight seasons behind the Big Red bench, Harkness' teams also won five Ivy League titles and four Eastern championships. In addition, the 1970 championship team set a mark that will never be eclipsed, finishing the season with a 29-0 record-the finest win-loss mark in the history of NCAA Division I hockey.
From Cornell, Harkness was appointed coach of the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings, making him the first coach to go from the American college ranks to the NHL. He spent four seasons in the Detroit organization, first as head coach and later as general manager. Harkness then established a hockey program at Schenectady, New York's Union College, and served as coach and rink director for the Skating Dutchmen until 1977. A year later he supervised construction on the Glens Falls (New York) Civic Center and founded the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League in 1979, serving as their general manager. For his efforts with the Red Wings, Harkness was named the AHL's executive of the year in 1980, and was given the Daoust Golden Skate Award in 1986 for contributions to the AHL.
In 1982, Harkness was appointed president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid, New York. He is a member of Halls of Fame for Cornell, New York State, Glens Falls and RPI.