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Sharks announce passing of respected goaltending coach Warren Strelow

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Sharks announce passing of respected goaltending coach Warren Strelow

The Canadian Press
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Strelow tutored goaltenders in the Sharks organization for the last 10 years.

"Our deepest condolences, along with our thoughts and prayers, reside with his family," said team president Greg Jamison. "He will be greatly missed."

Strelow was the first full-time goalie coach in the NHL with the Washington Capitals from 1983 to 1989 and had a similar role with the New Jersey Devils from 1990 to 1993 when he worked with Martin Brodeur.

A kidney transplant operation and a series of other health issues forced Strelow to recover at his Minnesota home for the last three seasons, but this year his health improved and he was buoyed by making several trips to San Jose to work on and off the ice with Sharks goaltenders Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala as well as travelling to Worcester to work with goaltenders with the AHL farm team.

"Warren was truly a one-of-a-kind individual who overcame many obstacles in recent years and was an inspiration to our entire organization," said Sharks GM Doug Wilson. "His passion for the game of hockey will always live in our hearts and we will carry on with Warren's life-long dream of winning the Stanley Cup.

"He will always be with us."

The family plans to hold a memorial following the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Known throughout the hockey world for his expertise and results in training young goaltenders, Strelow was widely regarded as the best in his profession. For more than 30 summers, players of all ages attended the Strelow Goalie School in Minnesota.

Strelow was goaltending coach for the U.S. team at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., where the squad coached by Herb Brooks, the late Hockey Hall of Famer and Strelow's longtime friend, pulled off the "Miracle on Ice" against the Soviet Union and won the gold medal against Finland.

"He's an American treasure," Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey, said of Strelow. "He could work with the youngest amateur and the best professional equally well.

"He had a special gift that only the great have."

Goaltender Jim Craig credited Strelow as one of the main reasons for his success in the tournament. Strelow reprised his role with the U.S. men's team at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City where the U.S. won the silver medal.

In 2004, Strelow was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame along with the 1980 players.

"Warren was a true expert on goalkeeping," said Lou Vairo, director of special projects for USA Hockey. "He was a man that not only trained his pupils, but also loved them.

"He is someone that American hockey will truly miss."

Hired by San Jose in 1997, Strelow helped the Sharks become one of the best consistent developers of goaltending talent in the NHL.

Under Strelow's tutelage in 2000-01, four goaltenders in the Sharks system were named to their respective leagues' all-star teams - Evgeni Nabokov in the NHL, Miikka Kiprusoff in the AHL, Terry Friesen in the WCHL and Johan Hedberg in the IHL. Nabokov was the NHL's rookie of the year in 2001. When Kiprusoff won the Vezina Trophy last year with the Calgary Flames, he acknowledged Strelow in his acceptance speech.

Before going to Washington, Strelow spent eights seasons as a scout: four with Calgary of the World Hockey Association and four with the NHL Central Scouting Department.

Strelow coached goaltenders at the University of Minnesota from 1974 to 1983, during which time the Golden Gophers won three U.S. titles and twice finished second.

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Sharks announce passing of respected goaltending coach Warren Strelow