John Muckler, Stanley Cup-Winning Coach, Dead at 86

by Matthew Wilson

Stanley Cup-winning coach John Muckler has died. The championship-winning coach, known for his work ethic, passed away Monday night (Dec. 4). No cause of death was revealed.

The Edmonton Oilers confirmed Muckler’s death on social media with a heartfelt tribute from NHL legend Wayne Gretzky. Muckler played an important role in building up the team during the 1980s. In 1982, Muckler joined the team as an assistant coach and worked under Glen Sather. Together, the two won four Stanley Cups. As head coach, Muckler also won the Stanley Cups.

The team went on a championship run between 1984 to 1990. Gretzky didn’t get to work with Muckler when he was head coach on his championship team in 1990. The NHL player had been traded to the Los Angeles Kings. But he was on the team when Muckler was the assistant coach for four championships. He remembers the coach fondly.

“He was tough, strict,” Gretzky said in a press release. “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.”

“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,” Gretzky continued.

John Muckler Also Coached for the New York Rangers

As a coach, Muckler created a lasting legacy within the NHL. In addition to coaching the Oilers, Muckler also was the head coach for the New York Rangers. He coached the team from 1997 to 2000. Prior to joining the Oilers, Muckler coached for the 1968-1969 Minnesota North Stars.

In 2001, Muckler left coaching to become a general manager for the Ottawa Senators. In that capacity, he almost saw championship gold again when the team made it to the 2007 Stanley Cup. They unfortunately lost, but Muckler played a big role in their success that season.

His last role in the NHL was spent as a senior adviser to the Phoenix Coyotes. In that position, he worked with Gretzky, who was coaching, once again. Muckler leaves behind a storied career and will go down as one of the sport’s great coaches.