John A. Ziegler Jr., the fourth president in National Hockey League history, died Thursday at age 84, the league announced Friday. It did not take long for many people involved in the NHL to send out their beloved regards to the family and to note how great of a man was Ziegler.
Ziegler became president of the NHL in 1977, and served until 1992 before Gary Bettman took over as the league’s first commissioner in 1993. Ziegler’s most notable accomplishment during his time with the league was perhaps the 1979 deal he secured with the World Hockey Association that saw the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers join the NHL.
Here is a statement that was published by Bettman on the passing of Ziegler:
“The NHL family was saddened to learn of the passing of former League President John Ziegler,” a statement from Bettman read. “From 1977 until 1992, as just the fourth President in NHL history, John oversaw the growth of the League from 18 to 24 teams, including the 1979 addition of four teams from the WHA. He was instrumental in the NHL’s transition to becoming a more international League – during his tenure, the share of European-born players in the NHL grew from two to 11 per cent, players from the former Soviet Union first entered the League and games between NHL and European Clubs became a nearly annual tradition.”
Ziegler, a native of Grosse Pointe, Mich., was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987 as a builder.
Bettman added: “On a personal note, John provided invaluable counsel during my early days as Commissioner and was always generous with his time. His life of service to our game was recognized in 1984 with the awarding of the Lester Patrick Trophy and in 1987 with induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. On behalf of the NHL’s Board of Governors, we extend our deepest sympathies to his entire family and many friends.”
On Hockey Central on Sportsnet, Brian Burke praised Ziegler and everything he accomplished in the NHL: