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Former Rangers defenseman Hanna dies

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

John "Junior" Hanna, a defenseman who played with the Rangers from 1958 to 1961, died on Nov. 20 in his native Nova Scotia at the age of 70.

Hanna, who had been battling cancer, played in 177 regular-season games for the Blueshirts during a 198-game NHL career that also included stops in Montreal and Philadelphia. Hanna broke into pro hockey in New York's system, scoring all six of his career NHL goals and all 32 of his points in a Rangers uniform.

In addition to his NHL career, Hanna played parts of nine seasons in the American Hockey League with Providence, Quebec, Jacksonville and Syracuse, and four more seasons with the Seattle Totems of the old Western Hockey League. With Seattle from 1968 to 1971, Hanna enjoyed his greatest success as a professional, earning WHL MVP honors in 1968-69 and being named the league's top defenseman in both 1968-69 and 1970-71.

Hanna, who was on the expansion Philadelphia Flyers team of 1967-68, was also part of the first World Hockey Association season in 1972-73, playing 66 games for the Cleveland Crusaders. Following his retirement as a player at the close of that season, he spent the next four years coaching in the AHL and Southern Hockey League. While coaching Jacksonville in 1973-74, he also played in 11 of the team's games.

The first Canadian of Lebanese descent ever signed to an NHL contract, Hanna did not begin skating until he was 13 years old. He had a standout career in the former Quebec Hockey League before joining the Rangers for the 1958-59 season.

After his coaching career ended in the late 1970s, Hanna, who grew up in Sydney, Nova Scotia, was active in the Cape Breton hockey scene and served on the board of directors for the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League.
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