Nova Scotia

Cape Breton hockey great dies at age 70

Cape Breton hockey legend John "Junior" Hanna died in hospital Sunday morning after battling cancer.

Cape Breton hockey legend John "Junior" Hanna died in hospital Sunday morning after battling cancer.

He was 70 years old.

Hanna played in the National Hockey League during the era of the original six teams.

Born in Sydney, Hanna began his professional career with Philadelphia Ramblers of the Eastern Hockey League.

He moved on to the NHL in 1958 where he played for the New York Rangers for almost three years. He also played with the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Hanna also played in the Western Hockey League where he earned honours including the Hal Laycoe Cup for outstanding defenceman and the Leader Cup for most valuable player.

Hanna retired from professional hockey in 1974 and returned to Cape Breton where he remained active in local hockey, serving on the board of directors for the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League and supporting KidSport, an organization dedicated to providing sporting opportunities for low-income children.

Cape Breton Crush coach Kevin Morrison remembers Hanna as a "pillar," a man of "impeccable character" who "never had a bad word to say about about anybody ... found the good in everybody and had nothing but good things to say about people."

"He wasn't just about the game on the ice. He was about the game of life," Morrison said. "He always learned from people and he always said, 'Don't burn your bridges. Learn from people you meet and respect the people you meet.'"

Morrison described Hanna as a solid, robust hockey player who played more with his heart than anything else. "His work ethic was impeccable," he said, adding, "He will be missed."