John Muckler, former Oilers coach and Stanley Cup champion, dies at 86

John Muckler, a former NHL coach and executive who was a part of five Stanley Cup winning teams with the Edmonton Oilers, has died at age 86.

5-time Stanley Cup winner joined Edmonton in 1981

John Muckler, left, and Wayne Gretzky had several years together as a coach and a player, respectively, with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

John Muckler, a former NHL coach and executive who was a part of five Stanley Cup winning teams with the Edmonton Oilers, has died at age 86.

The Oilers announced Muckler's passing in a news release Monday night. Throughout his career, Muckler worked with several NHL organizations including the Oilers, Minnesota North Stars, Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators and Phoenix Coyotes.

No cause of death was given.

Muckler was part of the staff that put together the Oilers dynasty of the 1980s, joining Edmonton in 1981 as an assistant coach under Glen Sather before going on to win five Stanley Cups with the organization between '84 and 1990 — the last one as head coach.

"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," said Wayne Gretzky in a news release.

"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 defences to raising a family. Rest in peace, John, you will be missed."

The Midland, Ont., native went on to coach the Sabres — where he was also general manager — and the Rangers. He was also GM of the Senators for five years.

Muckler was in Ottawa when the team drafted forward Nick Foligno 28th overall in 2006. He had 47 points in the 2011-12 campaign before the Senators traded him to Columbus on July 1, 2012.

'A Stanley Cup champion and leader of men'

"John Muckler gave me a chance to realize my dream of playing in the NHL," tweeted Foligno, who has spent the past eight seasons with the Blue Jackets. "For that I will always be grateful to him. His impact on the game and the people in it is well known and respected."

"Lots of laughs and the stories he told were tremendous," Ottawa Sun hockey writer Bruce Garrioch posted to his Twitter account. "He had lots of success in Ottawa and helped get the club to the Stanley Cup final in 2007."

In a tweet, former Hockey Night in Canada executive producer John Shannon said Muckler appreciated the game of hockey.

"He made a positive impression on anyone he touched," Shannon added. "He was a Stanley Cup champion and a leader of men. And he always had time to talk about the game we all loved."

Muckler served as a coach for three NHL all-star games as well as Canada's '84 and '87 Canada Cup winning teams.

He last worked in the NHL as senior adviser with the Coyotes in 2008.

Prior to coaching, Muckler played several seasons as a defenceman in the Eastern Hockey League.

with files from CBC Sports and The Canadian Press

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now