Mid-1970s era Flyers goaltender Gary Inness passed away on Feb. 23, 2021 at age 71 following a long battle with dementia. A very well-liked teammate and a caring man whose true loves apart from hockey were family and shaping young lives through education, he will be greatly missed.
Gary Inness was born May 28, 1949 in Toronto. After attending McMaster University and the University of Toronto, the undrafted goaltender turned pro. A 6-foot, 195-pound netminder, he debuted in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1973-74, and came to share time in net with Michel Plasse.
After Hall of Fame goaltender Bernie Parent was injured during the 1975-76 season, the Flyers obtained “Inch” from the Penguins to serve as backup depth behind the late Wayne Stephenson. As part of the deal, which also brought multiple late-round 1977 draft choices to the Flyers, Philadelphia sent veteran defenseman Ed Van Impe and backup goaltender Bobby Taylor to the Penguins.
Inness, who appeared in two regular season games for the Flyers late in the 1975-76 season, was third as the goaltending depth chart behind Parent and Stephenson when the latter two were healthy. Inness played six games for Philadelphia in 1976-77. Overall, he played in eight games (five starts) as a Flyer, posting a 3-0-2 record, 2.18 goals against average and .922 save percentage in 330 minutes of duty. He recorded an assist in a 9-1 win over the Minnesota North Stars on October 31, 1976.
Inness later played in the NHL for the Washington Capitals. He retired in 1981 to accept a head coaching job with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, serving three plus seasons in that role. Later, he became a teacher and then a guidance counselor at Barrie North Collegiate Institute, retiring in 2010.
For a number of years following his retirement, this bright and caring man suffered a progressive and debilitating physical and mental decline from the ravages of a form of dementia. He is no longer suffering but his loss is felt by all who knew him, on and off the rink, and whose lives he touched in one way or another.