Harley Hotchkiss, a member of the ownership group that brought the Flames to Calgary and the Hockey Hall of Fame, died Wednesday. He was 83.
Hotchkiss was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006 as a builder. He helped bring the Flames to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980 and served as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors from 1995 to 2007.
A frequent contributor to charity along with his wife Becky, Hotchkiss had been battling prostate cancer, and asked the NHL's Board of Directors in December to approve the sale of his 22 percent stake in the Flames.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement praising Hotchkiss and his contributions to the League:
"Harley's vision, his leadership, his integrity and his commitment to our game -- particularly in Canada -- were key components in making hockey, and the National Hockey League, as strong as they are today. He was passionately devoted to his family, his Flames, his community and his country.
"Harley was a cherished friend and counselor, and I will miss him terribly. I send the heartfelt condolences of the entire National Hockey League to his beloved Becky and their loved ones. As we grieve his passing, we honor Harley's immeasurable contributions."
Numerous members of the Flames organization added their condolences.
"With regret and sadness I inform you of the passing of Mr. Harley Hotchkiss," Flames President and CEO Ken King said in a statement released by the team. "He died at 6 AM this morning in his home in Calgary. He was one of the original owners of the Flames and our friend and mentor. Remember him and cherish the privilege we all have in knowing him."
Added team chairman Murray Edwards: "Harley was a great partner and a special gift to the hockey world, business, his community and most importantly his family. His life should be a bench mark for us all. We offer our deepest sympathies to Becky and all of Harley's family."
Hotchkiss was born in Tillsonburg, Ontario, and played college hockey at Michigan State. Hotchkiss' success as an entrepreneur helped him become part of the ownership group that purchased the Atlanta Flames and moved them to Calgary in 1980.
The Flames moved into what is now known as the Scotiabank Saddledome in 1983 and won the Stanley Cup in 1989 under Hotchkiss' watch. Calgary also reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1986 and 2004.
Former Flames star Theoren Fleury, a member of that 1989 Cup winner, took to Twitter to express his thoughts on the passing of Hotchkiss.
"We lost a tremendous man today," Fleury said. "Thank you for all you taught us. You will be missed."
A veteran of World War II, Hotchkiss earned several honors outside of hockey including entrance into the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame and Calgary Business Hall of Fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada and a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence. In 2004 the Calgary Brain Institute became the Hotchkiss Brain Institute because of the contributions of Harley and his wife.