One of the most revered players in the history of senior hockey in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Dorrington died Monday at the palliative care unit of Aberdeen Hospital in his hometown of New Glasgow, N.S.
Mr. Dorrington turned 80 years old in January and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a little more than a year ago. His wife, Angie Dorrington, had him admitted to hospital in January because of his deterioriating condition in the six months prior to that.
He was moved to palliative care Thursday where he would spend his final days surrounded by his loving family, including son Frank Dorrington Jr. and daughter Tracy.
“He was fine at the end, but he fought I tell ya. If he didn’t have that darn disease he would have lived to be an old man,” Angie Dorrington told The Western Star Monday afternoon.
“He was so tough. It took a lot of medication to relax him.”
Mrs. Dorrington and Tracy were by his side throughout the ordeal, but his loving wife had one of the toughest days of her life on Sunday.
“I had a hard time yesterday going in,” she said. “He had lost so much weight and he was sunken in so bad.”
She made daily visits to the hospital to visit Mr. Dorrington and help him stay comfortable, helping to bathe and feed him. She also made sure the sounds of the Three Tenors echoed through the room because of his passion for classical music.
“We did get a response from him,” she said.
People from all over Newfoundland and Labrador are mourning the loss of Mr. Dorrington, especially some of his good friends and teammates from the glory days when he carved his piece of history in provincial senior hockey circles.
According to his wife, the Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey Hall of Famer always spoke passionately about the people he met and befriended in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in Corner Brook, which she said her husband always called his second home.
Ironically, she said, it was a Dr. Farrell, a Newfoundlander, who made life comfortable for Mr. Dorrington in palliative care in his final days.
“He was wonderful with Frank,” she said, not being able to recall what part of the province Dr. Farrell hailed from.
Dr. Farrell actually recognized the Dorrington name because he was a fan of senior hockey growing up.
“‘I used to listen to him on the radio playing hockey,’” she said of Dr. Farrell’s reaction when Mrs. Dorrington confirmed his identity.
The doctor asked if it was OK to call him Danky, and Mrs. Dorrington had no problem with it.
Friends and teammates of Mr. Dorrington have been sending condolences to the Dorrington family since word spread of the disappointing news.
Mrs. Dorrington will forge ahead with so many fond memories of a man she felt was one of the kindest, most caring individuals she ever had the pleasure of knowing.
“It’s so much better. It’s like I’ve been sprung,” she said. “He’s in a better place, let’s hope.”
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996, Mr. Dorrington joined the Corner Brook Royals of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League in 1961 and spent the next 12 seasons with the team. According to the Hall of Fame’s website, Mr. Dorrington scored 349 goals and tallied 529 assists for 878 points — more points than any other player in the league’s history.
He also had success in the coaching department, leading the Royals to four Herder victories in the 1960s as a player/coach.
Mr. Dorrington, who was also a pretty solid softball player in his day, was named Corner Brook’s athlete of the year in 1969, and was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
Mickey Walsh won three Herders alongside Mr. Dorrington and considers his former teammate one of the best to ever suit up in provincial senior hockey circles. Walsh believes Mr. Dorrington was a positive influence on his players when he arrived in the city and credits him for turning the Royals into a respected senior hockey franchise in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“He put us on the map,” Walsh said. “The only person I could see that could have came here and done the job he did in the 1960s and 1970s.”
Walsh said Mr. Dorrington liked to have fun, but he was all business when it came to getting focused on winning hockey games. He also believes his friend was one of the greatest players to ever skate in the provincial senior hockey league.
“He was a great hockey player and I definitely rate him up with the Faulkners,” he said. “He was that good and he won a lot of championships.
“He knew how to win. When he came into that dressing room the law was ... there was no clowning around, and when he got you on the ice you did what he told you to do.”
No matter how competitive Mr. Dorrington was during the glory days, Walsh had the utmost respect for Mr. Dorrington and his family and believes they made a valuable contribution to the city while living here.
“He was a wonderful person. He was very nice,” he said.