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In memoriam: Jack McIlhargey

...former Canucks defenceman dies of cancer at age 68

by Greg Douglas / Vancouver Canucks

Jack McIlhargey, one of the most respected and loved members of the Vancouver Canucks organization over a span of 24 years, passed away peacefully on July 19, 2020, losing his battle with cancer at the age of 68.

Wife Karyne and teenage daughters Georgia and Anna were at his bedside in their Burnaby home on Capital Hill when Jack died Sunday evening.

McIlhargey established himself as one of the toughest defencemen in the NHL when he broke into the league with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975-76 and maintained that reputation when he was traded to the Canucks midway through the 1977 season. 

Jack appeared in 167 games for Vancouver, completing his playing career with the Hartford Whalers following the 1981-82 season. He rejoined the Canucks organization in 1984 and spent 20 years coaching and scouting at all levels, including seven years as an assistant coach in the NHL under Harry Neale, Tom Watt, Bob McCammon and Pat Quinn.

McIlhargey served on the Canucks Alumni Board of Directors since 2013 and as recently as this past February 28 to March 1 he participated in a three-day Canucks Alumni visit to Smithers, B.C. as a guest coach along with former Canucks and Alumni members Chris Oddleifson and Gino Odjick.

Two of Jack's closest friends - former teammates Harold Snepsts and John Grisdale - were invited to the McIlhargey home by Karyne the night of his passing.

"Jack could have run for mayor of Burnaby and won in a landslide because of his sense of humour, quick wit and caring for people," Snepsts frequently said.

McIlhargey was inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. He will be remembered in Canucks history as a down-to-earth, honest worker with an infectious laugh that endeared him to Vancouver fans over the span of five decades.

Video: Take a Tour of Jack McIlhargey's Family Home

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