John Muckler, the Canadian coach and executive whose career was highlighted with five Stanley Cups and two Canada Cups, passed away at age 86 due to complications from COVID-19.
A native of Paris, Ontario, Muckler first began coaching in 1959 following a 13-year minor league career, first joining the NHL in 1968 as the coach of the new Minnesota North Stars franchise. After long stints in the AHL and CHL, Muckler returned as an assistant to the upstart Edmonton Oilers in 1982, serving under head coach and general manager Glen Sather, who led the Oilers dynasty to four Stanley Cups (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988) before giving up his coaching duties to Muckler. As head coach, Muckler led the now Wayne Gretzky-less Oilers to a fifth title in 1990. Muckler would serve as GM and head coach with Buffalo from 1991-97, coach of the New York Rangers from 1997-2000, and GM of the Ottawa Senators from 2001-07, last serving as a senior advisor to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009.
Due to the limited exposure of NHL players participating in international competition in the 1980’s, Muckler only has two international coaching jobs, but both were major wins in Canadian hockey history, serving as an assistant (again under Sather) for Canada’s win at the 1984 Canada Cup, and again as an assistant (this time under Mike Keenan) at the legendary 1987 Canada Cup.
Our condolences go out to the Muckler family, as well as the extended hockey communities across cities he coached in Canada and the United States, on the death of this historic hockey leader.