John Muckler, Stanley Cup winning-coach, dies at 86

By Reuters
Ottawa Senators general manager John Muckler leaves meeting in Detroit.

Former NHL coach John Muckler, who won five Stanley Cup championships with the Edmonton Oilers, died at age 86.

The Oilers announced Muckler’s death Monday night but didn’t provide a cause.

Glen Sather, whom Muckler succeeded as the team’s head coach, told the Edmonton Sun that Muckler had a variety of health issues recently that included a heart attack and ensuing heart surgery, a fall and finally a battle with COVID-19.

Muckler, joined the Oilers as an assistant coach in 1981. He previously was the head coach of the Minnesota North Stars in 1968-69, and also worked in a variety of positions with both the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers before landing in Edmonton.

He was on the bench as an assistant when the Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1984 and ’85, then was promoted to assistant head coach under Sather. After the team won two more Cups in 1987 and ’88, Muckler took over as head coach and led the Oilers to its fifth Stanley Cup in seven years in 1990.

“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, a member of four of those Stanley Cup-winning teams and now the club’s alternate governor.

“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 defenses to raising a family. Rest in peace, John, you will be missed.”

After compiling a 75-65-20 record with the Oilers, Muckler left to take over as director of operations and head coach for the Buffalo Sabres (1991-95), later becoming head coach of the Rangers (1997-2000).

Overall, he posted a career record of 276-288-84.

Later in his career, he served as general manager of the Ottawa Senators and the then-Phoenix Coyotes.

–Field Level Media