NEW YORK - John Halligan, who spent a life in hockey working to publicize the New York Rangers and the NHL, died Wednesday. He was 68.
The cause of death wasn't disclosed. "He loved the stories of the game and, over his decades in hockey, told those stories with an abiding respect for the history - and humour - so that future generations of fans could enjoy them as much as he did," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "The NHL has lost a dear friend."
Halligan won the Lester Patrick Trophy - an award he helped create - in 2007 for his contributions to the game.
"John Halligan was an institution with the Rangers, and is as much a part of the tradition and history as any player who has worn the sweater," Rangers general manager and president Glen Sather said. "His tremendous loyalty and love for the organization and the game of hockey will be greatly missed."
Halligan joined the Rangers shortly after graduating from Fordham in 1963. With a shoestring staff, he tried to get as many stories on the team as possible into city newspapers.
His job eventually got easier as the Rangers got better and eventually made the Stanley Cup finals. They lost to Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins in 1972, though.
Halligan left the Rangers to work for the league in 1983, but returned to spend 1986-1990 with the Rangers before returning to the NHL until his retirement in 2006.
He also wrote numerous books on hockey, including "Game of My Life: New York Rangers," "New York Rangers: Seventy-Five Years," and most recently "100 Ranger Greats: Superstars, Unsung Heroes and Colorful Characters."
"I was just a rookie when I got to meet John Halligan," former Rangers star Brian Leetch said. "When John asked me to do something, he always had a reference to a player who had been in that situation before. He would always guide you in the right direction."
Halligan is survived by wife Janet.