Wren Blair is a living legend in hockey circles and has

had a decades-long love affair with Saginaw. Blair

brought professional hockey to mid-Michigan when

he founded the Saginaw Gears in 1972 and managed

them to two Turner Cups in 1976-77 and 1980-81. He

got his start in hockey coordinating the restoration of the

Junior “A” Oshawa Generals in 1953 after a fire devastated

their arena. He later led the Whitby Dunlop senior team to

the World Championship against the Soviet Union in 1959. When Blair was an executive with the Boston Bruins in 1960, he signed one of the sport’s top defensemen, Bobby Orr. He was instrumental for the return of hockey to Oshawa in 1962. In 1967 Blair then helped set up the expansion Minnesota North Stars. He coached the team in 1967-68 and parts of the next two seasons. Blair, who was the North Stars’ general manager from 1967-74, also was the general manager and part-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1975-77. Blair’s return to Saginaw hockey began in 2001 when he tried to convince the Ontario Hockey League board of governors that Saginaw deserved an expansion franchise. When the North Bay Centennials became available, Blair shifted his attention to trying to secure that team for Saginaw. He contacted local businessman Richard Garber and things moved rapidly from there. In January of 2002, Garber, with Blair’s advice, secured the franchise and the Saginaw Spirit was born. Blair wrote a book titled “The Bird, Life and Times of a Hockey Legend.” He is retired from the sport but still serves as Operations Consultant for the Saginaw Spirit.