KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Kamloops Blazers head coach Don Hay established a WHL record Saturday night with his 743rd regular-season victory.
The 63-year-old Hay set the record with a 4-2 home win over the Portland Winterhawks, surpassing the 742 victories set by former Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks head coach Ken Hodge in 1992-93.
It took Hodge 22 seasons and 1,411 games to amass 742 wins. Hay surpassed that in 19 seasons (1,341 games).
"On behalf of the WHL and our member clubs, I would like to extend our congratulations to Don Hay on becoming the winningest coach in WHL history," WHL Commissioner Ron Robison said. "Setting a record of this kind is not only a remarkable achievement but serves to highlight what an incredible career Don has had to this point and the success his teams have enjoyed under his leadership."
Hay has spent seven seasons coaching his hometown Blazers over two stints (1992-93 to 1994-95 and 2014-15 to present). He also spent two seasons with the Tri-City Americans (1998-99 and 1999-00) followed by another 10 seasons with the Vancouver Giants (2004-05 to 2013-14).
Hay has three Memorial Cup titles as head coach (1994, 1995, 2007) and another as an assistant coach (1992). He crafted WHL Championship teams on three occasions (1994, 1995, 2006) and was also on staff as an assistant coach for the Blazers' WHL Championship run in 1992.
Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Recchi, a co-owner of the Blazers who played for Kamloops in his junior days, tweeted a congratulatory message to Hay on Saturday night.
"A huge congrats to our coach!! What an amazing accomplishment!! #1 in WHL HISTORY!! Don hay!!! Very proud owner," the five-time Stanley Cup champion wrote.
The Dallas Stars tweeted a video of head coach Ken Hitchcock offering his congratulations to Hay on Sunday. Hitchcock guided the Blazers to two WHL titles before he became an NHL coach.
"Don, this is indeed a great honour to be the winningest coach in the Western Hockey League," Hitchcock said. "I couldn't be more proud of you. You were such a a great friend and a great teammate, great coach to work with.
"You've been such a great supporter of Kamloops Blazer hockey. Not only myself but all the coaches you worked with, we're so happy for you."
Hay also coached Canada to gold-medal performances at the 1995 IIHF world junior championship and 2013 IIHF under-18 worlds.
He spent four seasons (1995-96 to 1997-98, 2000-01) in the NHL between the Calgary Flames, Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks, as well as three seasons (2001-02 to 2003-04) in the American Hockey League with the Utah Grizzlies.