TORONTO (AP) -Former NHL player and general manager John Ferguson Sr., died Saturday after a lengthy fight with prostate cancer. He was 68.
The rugged forward, the father of current Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr., went from being a tough guy on the ice to a powerful man in the executive chair. He played eight NHL seasons from 1963-71, all with the Montreal Canadiens, and was a Stanley Cup champion five times.
Ferguson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2005, and thought he had beaten the disease, but a recurrence took his life.
``My father battled cancer with the same spirit in which he played the game of hockey,'' John Ferguson Jr., said in a release. ``He showed courage, strength, class and tremendous character. He had deep appreciation for the support he'd received from so many people beginning with his initial diagnosis.
``My father's spirit will continue to live on in all of us whose lives he touched.''
In 500 regular-season NHL games, Ferguson had 145 goals, 303 points and 1,214 penalty minutes. He scored an additional 20 goals in 85 postseason games.
Ferguson served as coach and general manager of the New York Rangers from 1975 until his dismissal three years later. He took over as GM of the WHA's Winnipeg Jets and held that position during the franchise's shift into the NHL in 1979 until the 1988-89 season.
In addition to his son, Ferguson is survived by his wife, Joan.
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