OTTAWA – Larry Regan, a former NHL rookie of the year who went on to become the first general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, has died. He was 78.
Regan died Monday at the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital, a hospital official said Tuesday. He had been battling a number of health problems, including Parkinson’s disease.
“The Kings are saddened by the news that Larry Regan has passed,” the NHL team said in a news release.
Regan, an excellent skater, stickhandler and penalty-killer who often scored when his team was short-handed, played five seasons in the NHL with Boston and Toronto. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 1956-57 after recording 33 points with the Bruins. In 280 career games, Regan recorded 41 goals and 95 assists.
Born in North Bay, Ont., Regan spent his youth playing hockey in Ottawa.
His rise to the NHL was a slow one, from the Ottawa Junior Senators in 1946 to the Toronto Marlies, Ottawa Senators, Shawinigan Cataracts, Quebec Aces, and Pembroke Lumber Kings before making the Bruins at 27 – becoming one of the oldest Calder winners.
Regan spent 2 1/2 seasons in Boston before joining the Leafs. In 1961, he moved to the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL for a season and then moved to Europe to coach in in Innsbruck, Austria.
Back in Canada, he coached the Etobicoke Indians Junior B club for a season before launching a brief comeback with the Baltimore Clippers of the AHL.
Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the expansion Kings, named Regan head scout in 1966 before promoting him to GM. Regan, who also spent time behind the Kings bench as head coach, remained in the job until 1973.
“I knew Jack from the years I played in Toronto,” Regan said in a recent interview. “We became pretty good friends along the way and stayed in touch. When I heard about the NHL expanding, I put my oar in the water with Jack before anybody else and I was fortunate enough to be chosen.”
Among the players Regan brought to Los Angeles were Rogie Vachon, Juha Widing, Terry Harper and Bob Murdoch. He also led the Kings to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons as GM.
“He was still general manager in 1973 when I joined the organization,” said Bob Miller, a Kings broadcaster for 36 seasons. “Larry was a fierce competitor both as a player and a general manager. His focus was always making the Kings competitive and successful.”
Regan was once fined US$1,000 by NHL president Clarence Campbell for punching referee Bruce Hood in the face following a game in Oakland in 1968.
“Someone had to do something with officiating like that,” Regan told the Los Angeles Times back then.
He was upset after a late penalty cost the Kings a victory against the California Seals. The stunt drew fans like a magnet. More than 10,000 attended the next Kings’ game.
He is survived by his wife Pauline. Funeral arrangements weren’t immediately available.