Memorable Manitobans: James Donald “Jimmie” Skinner (1917-2007)
Athlete, sports manager, restauranteur.
Born at Selkirk on 12 January 1917, son of James Frederick Skinner and Elizabeth Hughes Gordon, brother of Morden Huron Lake Skinner, his love of hockey was instilled from an early age by his father. He played with the Selkirk Fisherman, Winnipeg Rangers, and Flin Flon Bombers. He started his professional career in Indianapolis and moved to the Omaha Knights. He then accepted an offer to coach the Windsor Spitfires. There he trained coached or trained some of hockey’s greats: Terry Sawchuk, Al Arbour, Don Cherry, Marcel Pronovost, and Wilson Brothers, among others.
In the off-season he worked alongside his brothers and family in the restaurant business (Skinners) at Lockport, started in 1929 by his father. While working there he was called to take over as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. In his rookie season he guided the team to its seventh consecutive regular season first-place finish, culminating in a Stanley Cup victory in 1955. The following season he went to the finals again. He also coached three NHL All-Star games. Poor health forced him to retire after four years of coaching. He then worked as Chief Scout, Farm Director and later Manager with the Hamilton Red Wings, which won the Memorial Cup in 1962-1963. He was inducted into the Detroit Red Wings Hall of Fame (1977), Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame (1986), Flin Flon Hall of Fame, Windsor-Essex Sports Hall of Fame (2006), and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (2014).
He died at Windsor, Ontario on 11 July 2007.
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 14 July 2007.
We thank Karen Skinner for providing information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 6 August 2021