Basing his game on discipline and a strong physical presence, Ferdinand Charles Flaman was one of the game's top stay-at-home defensemen in the 1950s. Although he contributed to his team's transitional game when needed, it was as an open-ice bodychecker and for his ability to clear opponents from around his goal that Flaman acquired his reputation.
Like many other NHLers of the time, Flaman's development was rushed because of the player shortage caused by World War II. He may have been as young as 16 when he was called up to scrimmage with the Bruins for the first time. After only part of a season with the Hershey Bears, he was summoned to Boston for regular NHL duty at the age of 20.
He helped anchor the Bruins defense for over three seasons before he was involved in a multi-player transaction with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In order to acquire Flaman, one of the principles the Leafs had to part with was Leo Boivin, one of the hardest hitters in the history of the NHL. Despite the load of players they acquired in exchange for Flaman, many Bruins observers panned the deal as a detriment to their club. Flaman fitted in with his new club and became renowned for his hitting. Later that spring, he played an integral role on the blue line when Toronto won the Stanley Cup on Bill Barilko's dramatic overtime goal against Montreal. A naturalized U.S. citizen, he followed Doc Romnes and Roger Jenkins as only the third American player to play for the Blue and White.
Flaman's solid play on the blue line became even more significant for Toronto following the tragic loss of Barilko in a plane crash a few weeks after the 1951 Stanley Cup celebrations. Following the 1953-54 season, the Maple Leafs felt comfortable with their blue line corps and traded Flaman back to Boston, where he went on to play the best hockey of his career. During his second stint in Beantown, he took on a greater leadership role than previously. Flaman captained the squad for four years and was one of the founders of the first players' association to be recognized by the NHL, a crude precursor to the union that was formalized in 1967.
His solid play on Boston's blue line contributed to the team's run to the Stanley Cup finals in 1957 and 1958. His performances didn't go unnoticed, as he was placed on the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1955, 1957 and 1958. He retired in 1961 after playing more than 900 NHL games.
After leaving the NHL, Flaman found plenty of hockey challenges elsewhere. He joined the Rhode Island Reds of the AHL in 1961 and remained with the organization until 1965. In 1963-64, he functioned as player, coach and general manager. Most significantly, Flaman discovered a passion for coaching. An immensely popular figure with the Reds, he was elected to the Rhode Island Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965.
Next Flaman moved on to become coach and general manager of the Fort Worth Red Wings of the Central Hockey League. Flaman returned to the NHL as a scout for Boston in 1969-70. His chief responsibility was assessing college prospects in the northeastern U.S. This experience led to his longest job placement ever when Northeastern University hired him as head coach in 1970. Among his high points as a college coach was the ECAC and NCAA coach of the year award in 1982, one ECAC title and an appearance in the NCAA Final Four. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990 as a veteran player.