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Canadiens legendary trainer Eddy Palchak dead at 71 after long illness

Montreal Canadiens trainer and equipment manager Eddy Palchak is pictured in this 1998 team handout photo. Palchak has died after a long illness, the NHL club announced Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-NHL

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Montreal Canadiens trainer and equipment manager Eddy Palchak is pictured in this 1998 team handout photo. Palchak has died after a long illness, the NHL club announced Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-NHL

MONTREAL - Eddy Palchak, the Montreal Canadiens legendary trainer and equipment manager, has died after a long illness, the NHL club announced Thursday. He was 71.

Palchak, a member of the Canadiens organization for 31 years, died Wednesday night at Montreal General Hospital, the team said.

The Montreal native joined the Canadiens as assistant trainer to Larry Aubut for the 1966-67 season and worked in a variety of jobs until he retired in 2000.

He had his name etched on the Stanley Cup 10 times, a record for a support staff member of an NHL club. He was an instantly recognizable figure on Montreal's powerhouse clubs in the late 1960s and 1970s with his pinched expression behind his glasses and his squat, lumbering physique.

Palchak began the team's 100th anniversary celebrations on Dec. 4, 2009, by walking to the Canadiens bench and dumping two buckets of pucks onto the ice, just as he had done before practices and warmups for years. Fans chanted "Eddy Eddy" from the seats.

Palchak was a scoring star in minor hockey as a youngster. His career as a trainer began when he attended the Memorial Cup tournament in Toronto in the mid-1960s. The Junior Canadiens trainer fell ill and Palchak filled in for him.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society in 1998.

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