March 25, 1941|
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
|Died||September 26, 2019(aged 78)|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||187 lb (85 kg; 13 st 5 lb)|
|Played for||Philadelphia Blazers|
Nick Polano (March 25, 1941 – September 26, 2019)  was a Canadian ice hockey scout and player and coach. Polano was the Detroit Red Wings' head coach when owner Mike Ilitch first bought the team in 1982, and later served as the team's assistant general manager. As head coach, his overall record in the NHL was 79–127–34.
Polano was born in Sudbury, Ontario and grew up in Copper Creek. He never played in the National Hockey League, but he did play 15 seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL), plus 17 games in the World Hockey Association (WHA) as a defenceman.
Polano began his coaching career in 1975–76 with the Erie Blades of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and led that team to three consecutive regular season and playoff championships. Staying with the Blades as they changed leagues, Polano was twice named Eastern Hockey League coach of the year and in 1981 was named minor league executive of the year by The Sporting News.
Detroit Red Wings
Polano spent ten seasons in the Detroit Red Wings organization, first as head coach and then as assistant general manager. Polano guided the Red Wings from 1982 to 1985 and amassed a 79–127–34 regular season record as their head coach. In the summer of 1985, Polano was replaced as head coach by Harry Neale, but remained in the organization as the assistant general manager for player development. The move had been planned by Red Wings general manager Jim Devellano several years prior. Polano and team vice president Jim Lites, along with several European scouts, were instrumental in aiding the defection of several future NHL players from behind the Iron Curtain including Petr Klima, Slava Kozlov, and Sergei Fedorov.
Polano had scouted Klima during the 1983 World Championships where he was competing as a member of Czechoslovakia men's national ice hockey team. Based on Polano's recommendation, the Red Wings drafted Klima in the fifth round (88th overall) of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. In the summer of 1985, Klima left his team during a team meal in Nußdorf am Inn, West Germany, to meet Lites and Polano at an undisclosed location. Several days were then spent in the effort to bring Klíma to North America as Lites and Polano kept Klíma under wraps in Nußdorf and other locations to avoid pursuit by Czech police. Polano stayed with Klíma as Lites and other Wings officials arranged for him to gain refugee status to enter the United States. While they were waiting, Polano trained Klima in the woods outside of town. The Red Wings were assisted by U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese and deputy attorney general Lowell Jensen in expediting the political-asylum process. Polano accompanied Klima to the United States, where they arrived at Detroit Metro Airport on September 22, 1985.
From 1992 to 2000 Polano worked for the Calgary Flames, first as their director of pro scouting and later as their director of player personnel and general manager and alternate governor for the Saint John Flames.
In August 2002, Polano joined the Ottawa Senators as part-time professional scout.
NHL coaching record
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|Detroit Red Wings||1982–83||80||21||44||15||57||5th in Norris||Missed playoffs|
|Detroit Red Wings||1983–84||80||31||42||7||69||3rd in Norris||Lost in Division Semi-Finals|
|Detroit Red Wings||1984–85||80||27||41||12||66||3rd in Norris||Lost in Division Semi-Finals|
- "Billy Gardner Fired as Manager of the Twins". 22 June 1985 – via LA Times.
- Greenberg, Jay (23 January 1986). "Seeing The Light After Flight To Freedom, Detroit's Petr Klima Showing There Are Few Defects In His Game". articles.philly.com. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
- "PLAYERS; DEFECTOR MAKES QUICK JUMP TO N.H.L."
- Biographical information and career statistics from The Internet Hockey Database
| Head coach of the Detroit Red Wings