by John HalliganDenis J. Ball
, who for 25 years served the New York Rangers in a wide variety of scouting and administrative positions, died on April 22 in his native Winnipeg. He was 76 years old.
Although virtually unknown to nearly two generations of Rangers fans, Ball was an integral part of the Rangers organization from 1950 to 1975. He was primarily a scout and talent hunter, but Ball's titles read Director of Farm System, Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel.
A greatly gregarious man with devilishly dancing eyes and a wicked sense of humor and timing, Denis Ball virtually bled Ranger blue and was a top aide to long-time General Manager and Coach Emile Francis
from 1969 to 1975.
"Denis did a little bit of everything," Francis recalls. "He was a jack-of-all-trades, and extremely loyal to the organization. Plus, he knew everyone in hockey. His contributions, even behind the scenes, were tremendous."
In 1975, Ball joined the St. Louis Blues as vice president of hockey operations, and later assistant general manager. He remained with the Blues for eight seasons until his retirement in 1983.
In 2001, Ball was inducted as a builder in the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame. The Rangers honored him with a special award for 25 years of service in 2002.
Ball is survived by his wife of 43 years, Joyce.John Halligan is currently the Director of Communication and Special Projects for the National Hockey League. Prior to joining the NHL, he served the New York Rangers for 24 years in various capacities, including: Public Relations Director, Business Manager and Vice Presidnt of Communications. Halligan also co-founded the Rangers Alumni Association in 1981.