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Zalapski, former NHL defenseman, dies at 49

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Defenseman Zarley Zalapski, who played 12 seasons in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers, has died at the age of 49, the Flames announced Tuesday. 

The cause of death was not disclosed. 

"We are deeply saddened with the news of Zarley's passing," Flames president and CEO Ken King said in a statement. "We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey; made Calgary his home following his playing career; represented our alumni executive; and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family. This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family."

Video: Zarley Zalapski passes away at the age of 49

Zalapski, born in Edmonton, was selected by the Penguins with the No. 4 pick in the 1986 NHL Draft. He played 190 games over four seasons with Pittsburgh before being part of a trade with the Whalers that sparked the Penguins' back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.  

On March 4, 1991, Zalapski and forwards John Cullen and Jeff Parker were traded by the Penguins to the Whalers for forward Ron Francis and defensemen Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings. The Penguins won the Cup that season and the next.  

Zalapski played 229 games with the Whalers, 178 with the Flames, 28 with the Canadiens and 12 with the Flyers before retiring after the 1999-2000 season. 

Zalapski finished his NHL career with 384 points (99 goals, 285 assists) in 637 games.

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