The League paused its season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. After a 4 1/2-month break, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup on Sept. 28 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, one of two hub cities for the 2020 postseason. But the year was also defined by those we lost, including the only man in NHL history to win the Cup 11 times as a player, the leading scorer in the history of the original Winnipeg Jets and a 25-year-old center for the Edmonton Oilers trying to make his mark in the League.
Here’s a look at some of those in the hockey world who died during the year, in chronological order:
The defenseman played 554 of his 572 NHL games for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs from 1969-78. Though he never scored more than four goals or 22 points in a season, Glennie became known as one of the NHL’s best hip checkers, and he provided a physical presence that enabled offensive-minded Toronto defensemen such as Borje Salming to pile up points. The Maple Leafs traded the Toronto-born Glennie to the Los Angeles Kings on June 14, 1978, and he played 18 games with them before retiring with 114 points (14 goals, 100 assists) and 621 penalty minutes. He had one assist in 32 Stanley Cup Playoff games, all with Toronto.
Feb. 7 (age 89)
Popein made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers in 1954, playing center a line with Ron Murphy and Andy Bathgate and finishing fourth in voting for the Calder Trophy as the League’s rookie of the year. He played six full seasons with the Rangers before being sent to the Vancouver Canucks of the Western Hockey League in November 1960. Popein remained with the Canucks until 1967-68, when the first-year Oakland Seals acquired him; he played 47 games for the NHL expansion team before retiring with 221 points (80 goals, 141 assists) in 449 NHL games and five points (one goal, four assists) in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Popein later coached the Rangers for 41 games in 1973-74 before being fired. He returned to Vancouver as player personnel director for the Canucks, by then a member of the NHL, from 1974-85, before joining the Calgary Flames as a scout.
Babando scored 86 goals in 351 NHL games during a career that saw him play for the four teams based in the United States among the NHL’s Original Six, but he’s best known as the first player to score an overtime goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. The forward played his first two NHL seasons for the Boston Bruins from 1947-49. After scoring six goals in 56 games for the Detroit Red Wings in 1949-50, Babando made NHL history that season when he beat Rangers goalie Chuck Rayner at 8:31 of the second overtime in Game 7 to give the Red Wings a 4-3 win and their first of four Stanley Cup championships in a span of six seasons. Babando was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks during the following offseason and finished his NHL career with the Rangers in 1952-53, though he continued to play in the minor leagues until 1967.
No player in NHL history has won the Stanley Cup more than Richard. Known as The Pocket Rocket because of his size (5-foot-7, 160 pounds) and because he was the younger brother (by more than 14 years) of Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Henri played on 11 championship teams with the Canadiens during his 20 NHL seasons, including winning five titles in a row (1956-60) with his older brother as a linemate. Though he didn’t have Maurice’s offensive flair or nose for the net, Henri scored 358 goals and 1,046 points (80 points more than his brother) in 20 seasons with the Canadiens, and his 1,258 games played remain a Montreal record. He led the League with 52 assists in 1957-58, when he was named to the NHL First All-Star Team, and was a member of the Second All-Star Team in three of the next five seasons. Richard scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 6 of the 1966 Final against Detroit and in Game 7 of the 1971 Final against Chicago.
March 12 (age 68)
King joined the Flames as president and CEO in 2001 and was vice chair for the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation at the time of his death. During his tenure, King was the public voice of the Flames ownership group and helped build the foundation for CSEC, which owns the Flames and manages the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League, the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League and the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. King also worked to get the Flames a new arena deal, which the Calgary City Council cast an affirmative vote for in July 2019. Before joining the Flames, he spent 30 years in the newspaper industry, overseeing the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald as their president and publisher.
Stapleton was the first defenseman in NHL history to have 50 assists in a season and a three-time member of the NHL Second All-Star Team with the Black Hawks. He teamed with Bill White to form one of the NHL’s best defense pairs in the early 1970s, helping Chicago advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 1971 and 1973. Stapleton’s best offensive season was 1968-69, when he scored 56 points, including 50 assists, the most by an NHL defenseman at the time, though Bobby Orr of the Bruins surpassed his mark in 1969-70. He made the Second All-Star Team in 1965-66, when he finished third in voting for the Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s best defenseman, and was named to the Second All-Star Team again in 1970-71 and 1971-72. Stapleton finished his NHL career with 337 points (43 goals, 294 assists) in 635 games and 49 points (10 goals, 39 assists) in 65 playoff games.
April 9 (age 98)
A center born in Motherwell, Scotland, Conacher played eight seasons in the NHL with the Red Wings, Black Hawks and Rangers, finishing with 202 points (85 goals, 117 assists) in 328 NHL games, as well as seven points (five goals, two assists) in 19 playoff games. He became the oldest living NHL player when Chick Webster died at 97 in 2018.
Webster was an NHL player, coach and longtime scout, as well as one of the top scorers in the seven-year history of World Hockey Association. The forward scored 75 points (33 goals, 42 assists) in 102 NHL games during five seasons with the Bruins, California Golden Seals and Red Wings. In the WHA, he scored 425 points (220 goals, 205 assists) in 352 games during six seasons, all with the New England Whalers; he is seventh in league history in goals and 13th in points. As an NHL coach with the Rangers and Kings, he was 120-103 with 35 ties. His coaching tree includes Joel Quenneville (Florida Panthers), Claude Julien (Canadiens), Peter DeBoer (Vegas Golden Knights), D.J. Smith (Ottawa Senators) and Paul Maurice (Winnipeg Jets). Webster also was a scout with the Flames for more than a decade.
Cave, a forward for the Oilers, had surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain. Cave scored one goal in 11 games with Edmonton last season and 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 44 games with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. He was in his second season with the Oilers after being claimed off waivers from the Bruins on Jan. 15, 2019. In three seasons with the Oilers and Bruins, Cave scored nine points (four goals, five assists) in 67 NHL games. He was signed by the Bruins as an undrafted free agent April 7, 2015, and made his NHL debut Dec. 21, 2017.
April 22 (age 91)
The center played four seasons each with the Bruins and Rangers before playing the final five games of his NHL career with the Canadiens in 1954-55. His best offensive season came with the Bruins in 1949-50, when he had NHL career highs of 23 goals and 59 points, finishing fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP. Ronty was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game four times — twice as a member of the Bruins (1949, 1950) and twice while playing for the Rangers (1953, 1954). He finished in the top 10 in the NHL in scoring in all four of those seasons. Ronty finished his NHL career with 312 points (101 goals, 211 assists) in 488 games, as well as eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 21 playoff games.
McIlhargey, a rugged defenseman, played 393 NHL games for the Philadelphia Flyers, Canucks and Hartford Whalers from 1975-82. He finished with 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists) and 1,102 penalty minutes, as well as three assists in 27 playoff games. He was a member of the Philadelphia teams that lost in the Stanley Cup Final in 1976 and 1980. After retiring, McIlhargey was an assistant with Vancouver from 1985-91, spent eight years coaching the Canucks’ American Hockey League affiliates, then returned to the NHL as an assistant with Vancouver from 1999-2003 and an associate coach from 2003-06. He rejoined the Flyers as an assistant under coach John Stevens from 2007-09 and later worked for Philadelphia as an amateur scout.
Known as The Entertainer, Shack was a flamboyant figure on and off the ice who carved out a 17-season, 1,047-game NHL career and was a member of four Stanley Cup championship teams with the Maple Leafs (1962, 1963, 1964, 1967). Shack scored 465 regular-season points (239 goals, 226 assists) from 1958-59 to 1974-75 for the Rangers, Maple Leafs, Bruins, Kings, Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins, and had five 20-goal seasons. The forward scored the Cup-winning goal for Toronto in Game 5 of 1963 Stanley Cup Final against Detroit and finished his NHL career with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 74 playoff games. Shack also piled up 1,431 penalty minutes while playing a helter-skelter game that usually pushed to the edge of the rules — and often beyond them. Shack was best known for his quick lip, bushy mustache and brash personality off the ice; he was an advertising pitchman who for decades flogged numerous products on TV and in print while poking fun at himself.
Aug. 3 (age 64)
The Golden Seals chose Klassen with the No. 3 pick in the 1975 NHL Draft after the native of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, scored 68 points (21 goals, 47 assists) in 41 games with Saskatoon of the Western Canada Hockey League (now WHL) during his final season in junior. Klassen never came close to those numbers in the NHL; the forward’s best offensive season was 1976-77, when he scored 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 80 games with the Cleveland Barons after the Golden Seals moved in the offseason. He also played with the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Blues before retiring in 1983 with 145 points (52 goals, 93 assists) in 497 regular-season games and six points (four goals, two assists) in 26 playoff games.
Hawerchuk, the leading scorer in the first iteration of the Jets, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001. The center held the franchise records for goals (379) and points (929) until Shane Doan, captain of the Arizona Coyotes and the last member of the original Jets still active in the NHL, surpassed them during the 2015-16 season. The Jets selected Hawerchuk with the No. 1 pick in the 1981 NHL Draft, and he was an instant star, being voted winner of the Calder Trophy after scoring 45 goals and 103 points in 1981-82 and becoming the first player to reach 100 points as an 18-year-old. Hawerchuk reached the 100-point mark in six of his first seven seasons with Winnipeg; he also played for the Sabres, Blues and Flyers before retiring in 1997 with 1,409 points (518 goals, 891 assists) in 1,188 regular-season games and 99 points (30 goals, 66 assists) in 97 playoff games.
Langlois, nicknamed Junior, was a stay-at-home defenseman who played 498 NHL games over nine seasons (1957-58 through 1965-66) and was a member of the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1958, 1959 and 1960. The native of Magog, Quebec, went on to play for the Rangers, Red Wings and Bruins and had the distinction of being the last Boston player to wear No. 4 before it was given to Orr. Langlois finished his NHL career with 112 points (21 goals, 91 assists), as well as six points (one goal, five assists) in 53 playoff games. His best offensive season came with the Rangers in 1961-62, when he scored 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) and helped New York qualify for the playoffs.
The two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Maple Leafs (1962, 1963) was one of the NHL’s best two-way forwards during his 18-season career. After scoring 21 goals as a rookie in 1960-61, his first full season, Nevin dropped to 15 in 1961-62 and 12 in 1962-63 but was a key part of those back-to-back Maple Leafs championships. Toronto made it three in a row in 1964, but that came after Nevin was sent to the Rangers as part of a seven-player trade Feb. 22, 1964. He was given more offensive freedom in New York, where he was captain from 1965-71. He also played with the Minnesota North Stars and Kings before retiring in 1976. Nevin scored 726 points (307 goals, 419 assists) in 1,128 NHL regular-season games, and 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 84 playoff games.
Oct. 26 (age 57)
Moss was the longtime locker room attendant for the Oilers. He joined them during the 1982-83 season in a part-time capacity, according Wayne Gretzky, who recommended him for the position while playing for Edmonton. Moss became a full-time employee in 1984-85, according to the Oilers. He formed bonds with Edmonton players and others in the NHL during his tenure. Moss, who was born with Down syndrome, also worked with the Edmonton Football Team of the Canadian Football League. He was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Oct. 29 (age 45)
Roy’s college hockey career lasted all of 11 seconds; the forward was paralyzed from the neck down after crashing into the boards during his first shift for Boston University on Oct. 20, 1995. Roy dedicated his life to helping others with spinal cord injuries through the Travis Roy Foundation. He was a fundraiser and an advocate, personally touching others who sustained injuries like his, especially hockey players like Denna Laing and Jack Jablonski. His foundation has awarded more than $4.7 million in research grants, along with grants to survivors of spinal cord injuries.
Neilson was a defenseman who played 16 seasons in the NHL, the first 12 with the Rangers. They were in a down phase when he arrived in 1962, but Neilson and longtime defense partner Rod Seiling were a big part of their rise in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1967-68 and helped New York reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1972, though the Rangers lost to the Bruins in six games. Neilson played his final four NHL seasons with the Golden Seals/Barons franchise before joining the Oilers for their last season as a member of the WHA in 1978-79; one of his teammates was Gretzky, then a 17-year-old rookie center. Neilson scored 368 points (69 goals, 299 assists) in 1,024 NHL games, and 18 points (one goal, 17 assists) in 65 playoff games.
Meeker was the last living member of the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup-winning teams from 1947-49 and 1951. The forward played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1947, 1948 and 1949 and was voted winner of the Calder Trophy in 1946-47 after scoring 45 points (27 goals, 18 assists) in 55 games. He scored five goals against Chicago at Maple Leaf Gardens on Jan. 8, 1947, setting a single-game NHL record for rookies. Meeker retired from the NHL after the 1953-54 season with 185 points (83 goals, 102 assists) in 346 regular-season games and 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 42 playoff games. Generations of fans who never saw him play came to know Meeker through his work on television, most notably as an analyst on “Hockey Night in Canada.”
Nov. 8 (age 80)
The longtime host of the television game show “Jeopardy!” was a native of Sudbury, Ontario, and a longtime friend of the NHL. That was never more evident than during the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft on Oct. 6, when he announced the selection of German forward Tim Stuetzle by the Ottawa Senators with the No. 3 pick, doing so in a “Jeopardy!” Q&A format. He also hosted one of the segments of the NHL 100, a Centennial gala in Los Angeles on Jan. 27, 2017, to showcase many of the League’s 100 Greatest Players, and presented the Hart Trophy to Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning at the 2019 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
The native of Jansen, Saskatchewan, was a member of the expansion Penguins in 1967-68, then later coached them and held several positions in their front office. After playing 265 games with the Rangers from 1959-60 to 1966-67, the 34-year-old forward was selected by the Penguins in the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft. He played six seasons with Pittsburgh and was the first member of the Penguins to be selected for the NHL All-Star Game (1968 and 1969). Schinkel was 40 when he retired as a player midway through the 1972-73 season and was named coach Jan. 13, 1973, replacing Red Kelly. He was 83-92 with 28 ties during two stints from 1973-77. Schinkel finished his NHL career with 325 points (127 goals, 198 assists) in 636 regular-season games, and nine points (seven goals, two assists) in 19 playoff games.
Sasakamoose was one of the first Indigenous players in the NHL; he played 11 games with the Black Hawks during the 1953-54 season. The forward went to training camp with Chicago in 1954 but was sent to the minors. He played minor and senior hockey until retiring in 1960. Though his NHL career was brief, Sasakamoose blazed a trail for players and coaches of Indigenous heritage, including Carey Price, Jordin Tootoo, Bryan Trottier, Reggie Leach, George Armstrong, Ted Nolan, Craig Berube, Sheldon Souray, Gino Odjick and Theo Fleury. Sasakamoose also was on the NHL Diversity Task Force as well as a board member of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
Dec. 6 (age 87)
Armstrong was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 after a career as a linesman that saw him officiate 1,744 regular-season NHL games from 1957-78 and work 18 consecutive Stanley Cup Finals (1960-77). On Oct. 16, 1973, he was honored at Olympia Stadium in Detroit for officiating his 1,314th game, breaking the NHL mark set by George Hayes. After retiring from officiating, he joined the Canadiens as a scout while also working as a golf pro in Sarnia, Ontario, during the offseason. His son, Doug Armstrong, was part of Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Dallas Stars (1999, as assistant general manager) and Blues (2019, as GM).
Dec. 13 (age 72)
Lacroix had been a successful player agent before the Quebec Nordiques hired him as president and general manager May 24, 1994. He remained in those roles when the team moved and became the Colorado Avalanche before the 1995-96 season, winning the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history that first season in Denver. Lacroix’s tenure as GM also was highlighted by trades he made to acquire future Hockey Hall of Famers Patrick Roy (1995), Ray Bourque (2000) and Rob Blake (2001); all three were part of the Avalanche’s second Stanley Cup championship in 2001. Under his leadership, the Nordiques/Avalanche finished first in their division in each of his first nine seasons as GM and qualified for the playoffs in each of his 11 seasons. He was GM until 2005-06 and remained as president until 2013.
Dec. 19 (age 80)
Berglund worked in the NHL in the 1970s and 1980s as a U.S. scout for the Blues and director of player recruitment for the Rockies before spending parts of five decades as an administrator for USA Hockey. He managed or was on the administrative staff of more than 30 teams in a variety of tournaments worldwide. Berglund was named director of national teams and international activities for USA Hockey in 1984 and, after 11 years, worked as senior director of international administration in 1996. He retired from his full-time position on June 30, 2005, but continued with USA Hockey on a part-time basis as a consultant to the international department for the next decade. Berglund received the Lester Patrick Award for service to hockey in the United States in 1992 and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.