Ralph (Cooney) Weiland, who led the Harvard men's ice hockey team to two Eastern conference championships and six Ivy League titles in his 21 seasons as head coach, died Wednesday following a brief illness. He was 80.
Weiland, one of the most celebrated hockey figures in both Boston and the game itself, played 11 seasons for the Boston Bruins hockey team and later led the Bruins to two National Hockey League Championships and one Stanley Cup during his two years as coach.
After leaving the Bruins in 1959, he came to Harvard and began a 21-year, unparalleled coaching career, during which Harvard produced some of its most successful teams.
From 1953-58, he led his teams to five consecutive Ivy League championships, and 16 of his 21 teams posted winning records. His best seasons came in 1956-57, when the team boasted a 21-5 record, and in 1962, when his team posted at 21-3-2 record.
He stepped down after the 1970-71 season, during which he and his squad claimed their second Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship, and was replaced by Harvard's current hockey coach, William J. Cleary '60.
Weiland posted a 315-174-17 career record. Cleary earned his 200th career victory last season.
"He never asked 110 percent and never asked for 95 percent, but he always expected 100 percent of his players," said the captain of the gold medal winning 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey team, Robert Cleary '58, who Weiland coached at Harvard for three years
"He was not one of those 'rah-rah guys,' but was very quiet. He treated us like men and expected us to act like men," said Cleary, who is the brother of William Cleary. "I learned more from him than any Harvard professor," he added.
The popular coach, who grew up in Seaforth, Ontario, and whose career spanned six decades as player and a coach, began his distinguished NHL career with the Bruins in 1928-29, the season when the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup.
His best season as a professional player came in 1929-30, when he led the league in games played (43) and total points (73). The year after he ended his plying career he took over as coach of the team, and in his second year he guided them to a 27-8-13 record and a Stanley Cup.
He departed from the Bruins the next year, however, after differences with team general manager Art Ross.
Ten years later he took over as Harvard hockey coach from John P. Chase, who had posted a carrer record of 55-44-3.
Memorial services will be held in Memorial Chapel on Friday at 11:30 p.m.
Weiland leaves his wife of 56 years Gertrude (Hussey) of Wayland.