Jim Gregory, a Canadian league executive died on 30th October 2019. The cause of death is unknown, the 2007 Hall of Famer, has left many in tears, including colleagues, friends, and family.
Gregory was a father of four and was the general manager of the Toronto Maple leaves from 1969 to 1979 where he has led them to eight playoff appearances. He later became the executive director of Hockey Operations and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007. Quite a number of people have come out to sympathize with the loss of this great man. The National Hockey league commissioner is one of them, “it is impossible to express the extent to which the national hockey league family adored Jim Gregory and the loss we feel as a result of his passing” he said. He described Jim to be a great man, a devoted father to Andrea, Valarie, Maureen and David and a grandfather of thirteen, a friend and mentor to many.
Retired defenseman Aaron Ward also had a lot to say about Jim, “there is no better man and no better ambassador that represented the NHL so honorably, he was everywhere, at every event and he’d immediately make you smile just seeing him, that says enough about the man” were his words.
Indeed Jim Gregory was a great man. Jim was born in Ontario and attended St Michael’s college in Toronto. He was a trainer at the school’s hockey team and later grabbed management and coaching positions. He managed the Toronto Malboros, winning two championships and later managed the Toronto Maple Leafs. \Initially, he was hired by the Leafs to coach their minor league affiliate in Vancouver and joined the Leafs as a scout in 1968 where he was promoted to manager a year later. He led them to eight playoff appearances. The director of the hockey operations was the last job Gregory held before he died.
Did Gregory have any issues regarding his health? Yes he did. He suffered a heart attack in February 2009 but quickly recovered from it, and in 2011 he was treated for a blood disorder called amyloidosis, a disease in which abnormal proteins build up in the tissue.
When the Commissioner described him as a friend and mentor, he was not lying. Jim was a mentor and a helper to many. Borja Salming was one of the people Jim had brought into the National Hockey League and he also came out to say many things about Gregory. He said Jim represented a father figure in his life when he shared “he was like a second father to me and is more more than a manager. In 1973, I came into a new country, a new league, a new city, a new culture, a new language, a new everything and he was always there for me, without him I’m not sure how I would have cope”. Gregory had brought Salming and Inge Hammarstrom into the NFL in 1973.
Future Hall of Famer, Darryl Sittler believed he was a “wonderful man”. ” Jim was the general manager back in 1970 when I was drafted by the leafs, he was very instrumental in putting a really good team together of good players like Lanny McDonald, Tiger Williams, Börje Salming, Mike Palmateer and Thompson, we were all guys that grew under his guidance, he was a good communicator and was always the guy that cared about people” he said .
He has received sympathy from those he loved and those who loved him. John Davidson, New York Rangers president, Mike Babcock, Maple Leafs coach, Aaron Ward who is a former NHL player and former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon are a few of many people who have offered their condolences and expressed their grieve through heartfelt words and appreciation.
Considering Gregory’s achievements, the times he spent with Maple Leafs, the father figure he was to people and the love he had for the game, there is no doubt he was a noble man who deserved this much sympathizers. The teams he coached, his 60-year-old wife Rosalie, his children, grandchildren and those he trained to be who they are today will miss him greatly. Just like Sittler had said, Gregory died doing what he loved.