Former National Hockey League president John Ziegler Jr. has died, the league announced on Friday.
Ziegler, who died on Thursday, was 84.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressed Ziegler’s impact on the league.
“The NHL family was saddened to learn of the passing of former League President John Ziegler,” Bettman said. “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 percent, players from the former Soviet Union first entered the League and games between NHL and European Clubs became a nearly annual tradition.”
Ziegler was an amateur hockey player for two decades, beginning in 1949, but he did legal work for the Detroit Red Wings in 1959 after graduating from law school two years earlier.
He later joined the league’s Board of Governors, eventually becoming chairman in 1976.
One year later, he was elected as the league’s fourth president — a post he held until 1992.
In 1993, Bettman became the NHL’s first commissioner and credited Ziegler with helping him in the transition.
“On a personal note, John provided invaluable counsel during my early days as Commissioner and was always generous with his time,” Bettman said. “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.”
After leaving the NHL, Ziegler worked at a Detroit law firm and held the position of alternate governor for the Chicago Blackhawks.
—Field Level Media