Former Sabres GM Muckler dead at 86

The Associated PressIn this Dec. 4, 1999 file photo, New York Rangers coach John Muckler yells instructions to his players on the ice during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo.

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — John Muckler, who coached four NHL teams and won five Stanley Cup championships with the Edmonton Oilers, has died. He was 86.

The Oilers confirmed Muckler’s death Monday night. No cause was given.

Muckler was part of the staff that put together the Oilers dynasty of the 1980s. He joined Edmonton in 1982 as an assistant coach under Glen Sather and won five Stanley Cups with the organization from 1984-90, the last one as head coach.

When the Midland, Ontario, native left Edmonton, he served as director of operations and head coach for the Buffalo Sabres from 1991-95. Muckler also was head coach of the New York Rangers from 1997-2000, and spent 35 games in charge of the 1968-69 Minnesota North Stars.

He became general manager of the Ottawa Senators in 2001 and helped build a team that reached the 2007 Stanley Cup final, where the Senators lost to Anaheim.

Muckler’s final NHL role was a senior adviser position with the Phoenix Coyotes in September 2008, working alongside then-coach Wayne Gretzky, who had a close relationship with Muckler from their time in Edmonton.

“He was tough, strict, but most importantly fair, and he helped lay the groundwork to make our team more accountable to each other which propelled us to become champions,” Gretzky said in a statement released by the Oilers.

“A wonderful family man and great friend, he personally took my career to another level, and I will always cherish the hours we talked, from breaking down defenses to raising a family.”

Muckler finished with a career coaching record of 276-288-84.

He also served as a coach for three NHL All-Star Games, as well as Canada’s 1984 and 1987 Canada Cup winning teams.

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