OTTAWA (AP) -Larry Regan, a former NHL rookie of the year who became the first general manager of the Los Angeles Kings and coached the team for a season, has died. He was 78.
He died Monday at the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital, the hospital said Tuesday. He had a number of health problems, including Parkinson's disease.
Regan 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 finishing with 33 points with the Bruins. At 27 years old, he was one of the oldest Calder winners.
Regan was an excellent skater, stickhandler and penalty-killer who often scored with his team short-handed. In 280 career games, he totaled 41 goals and 95 assists.
Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the expansion Kings, hired Regan as head scout in 1966 before promoting him to GM. Regan, who coached the team in 1970-71 and the first month of the following season, remained with the Kings until 1973.
He had a 25-40-13 record his first season as the coach, and was 2-7-1 before relinquishing the job the next season.
"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.
Regan's Kings finished their first NHL season with a 31-33-10 record, one of the best inaugural years for a pro sports expansion team.
"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 $1,000 by NHL president Clarence Campbell for punching referee Bruce Hood in the face following a game in Oakland in 1968. A late penalty cost the Kings a victory against the California Seals.
"Someone had to do something with officiating like that," Regan told the Los Angeles Times then.
Regan was born in North Bay and spent his youth playing hockey in Ottawa. His rise to the NHL was slow. He made his way through junior hockey before making the Bruins.
He spent 2 1/2 seasons in Boston and joined the Maple Leafs. In 1961, he went to the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL for a season and then moved to Europe to coach in Austria. 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.
He is survived by his wife, Pauline.
Funeral arrangements weren't immediately available.