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Alan Thicke remembered by NHL, hockey community

'Growing Pains' star, hockey fan, who died at 69, was close friends with Wayne Gretzky @NHLdotcom

NHL Now: Alan Thicke

NHL Now: Gary Bettman on the passing of Alan Thicke

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman offers words on the passing of actor and passionate hockey fan, Alan Thicke

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Alan Thicke, an actor best known for his role as Jason Seaver on "Growing Pains," died Tuesday at the age of 69.

Thicke was a huge hockey fan and close friends with Wayne Gretzky, who shared his thoughts on Thicke on Thursday via social media.

Tweet from @OfficialGretzky: Janet & I are deeply saddened to hear of Alan's passing. He was a wonderful man,father,husband and friend.He will be missed by all. RIP Alan

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thicke will be greatly missed.

"In addition to being a passionate fan, Alan was an energetic participant in many of our events, including All-Star, charity games and Awards shows," Commissioner Bettman said Thursday. "He frequently attended games and was with us as recently as September's World Cup.

"Alan always displayed humor and grace and he will be greatly missed. We send condolences to Alan's wife, Tanya, and the rest of his family as well as to his countless friends and the multitudes he entertained."

Video: Thicke named honorary captain for Tampa Bay Lightning

Upon news of Thicke's death, many people from the hockey community and entertainment industry offered their condolences on social media,

Tweet from @EdmontonOilers: RIP to one of the great ones, Alan Thicke.

Tweet from @BaileyLAKings: I can't believe my friend Alan Thicke passed away. �� such a sad day!

Tweet from @LAKings: RIP Alan Thicke. :(

Tweet from @TBLightning: The master of ceremonies for the very first #TBLightning game to ever be played at Expo Hall.Rest in peace, Mr. Thicke.

Tweet from @AmandaKessel8: So sad to hear of the passing of @Alan_Thicke I was lucky enough to meet him & play hockey with him#greatguy #ripalanthicke

Tweet from @MERUZIONE: sad to hear that Alan Thicke Died played many celebrity hockey games with him he loved the game hope he scored one last goal RIP my winger

Tweet from @AdamBaldwin: Alan Thicke loved Hockey!He was one of the kindest gentlemen to have ever laced ���em up. #RIPAlanThicke

Tweet from @David_Boreanaz: So saddened to hear about the death of Alan Thicke. All heart,loved life and was a true gentleman and hockey brother. R.I.P.

Tweet from @GeorgeParros: I almost believe it's not real. The hockey word lost a great ambassador and I a good friend. Thoughts are with your family @Alan_Thicke

Thicke was born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, and grew up playing hockey and football, though his love of hockey was well-known, from his Los Angeles Kings fandom to his relationship with Gretzky, among other NHL greats, to his frequent involvement with NHL events.

In a 2014 profile by Grantland, Thicke described how hockey helped make him feel at home when he moved to Los Angeles in 1970.

"When I first came to Los Angeles -- literally the first week when I was still staying in a motel -- I was looking to establish some element of familiarity," he said. "And as a lonely Canadian, I looked in the newspaper to see if the Kings were playing Saturday night."

As Thicke gained fame in Hollywood, he used his celebrity and his friendships with NHL players to help raise the sport's profile in the United States. 

Among his efforts was the "The Hockey Sock Rock," a song he wrote for the New York Rangers and the NHL in 1979. Rangers Phil Esposito, Ron Duguay, Dave Maloney, John Davidson and Pat Hickey performed the song on the record, with proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

The record had a B side track called "Forgive My Misconduct," performed by Kings players Marcel Dionne, Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor.

Watch: Youtube Video

Thicke became friends with Gretzky, then captain of the Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky was at Thicke's home, babysitting Alan's son Robin, when he received the call he'd been traded to the Kings in 1988.

"Outside of the Oilers and the Kings and my wife and I, he was the first person that knew the trade was going to happen," Gretzky told Grantland in 2014. "I knew he wasn't going to say anything. Most importantly, he was probably the biggest L.A. Kings fan in town, so he probably wanted it to happen more than anybody."

Thicke grew into a great ambassador for the game through the past 40 years, lending his humor and show business savvy to some of the League's biggest events. He hosted the NHL Awards in 1988, kicking off the night with a memorable musical number.

Watch: Youtube Video

In 1992, he served as master of ceremonies at Expo Hall for the Tampa Bay Lightning's first game.

Thicke remained a huge Kings fan, while pulling for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, and continued to be around the game he loved.

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