Skip to main content
The Official Site of the New York Rangers

Patrick Trophy winner Halligan passes away

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Sather: 'Halligan Was Institution with Rangers'

John Halligan, one of the greatest friends the New York Rangers organization has ever known, passed away early Wednesday morning at the age of 68.

A 2007 Lester Patrick Trophy winner for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States, Halligan spent 24 years with the Rangers from 1963 to 1983 and then from 1986 to 1990 in a variety of roles, including Public Relations Director, Business Manager and Vice President of Communications.

John Halligan's passion for hockey led him to four decades as one of the most respected public-relations executives in the game and the Lester Patrick Trophy for his service to hockey in the U.S.
During his years with the Rangers, he developed the team's media guide into a standard of excellence throughout pro sports, organized and preserved the team's archives for generations to come, and emerged as the New York Rangers'  leading historian.

Halligan also served as an executive at the National Hockey League, where he spent 20 years between 1983 and 2006 as the NHL's Director of Communications and Special Projects. From 1991 to 1993, he was the Director of Communications for NHL Anniversaries -- taking a lead role in the league's 75th anniversary celebration in 1991-92 and the 100th anniversary of the Stanley Cup in 1992-93.

Few hockey personalities have known as much about the game's tradition and history as Halligan, whose most recent book, 100 Ranger Greats, a collaboration with Russ Cohen and Adam Raider -- was published last year. In the book, Halligan and his co-authors developed a ranking of the 100 greatest players in the team's history.

In a recent interview with Rangers Radio on, Halligan discussed the process of going through 83 years of history to rank the greatest Rangers and shared some of his own personal memories of them.

Asked which people in the Rangers organization had made the biggest personal impact on him during his career, Halligan noted former General Manager and head coach Emile Francis, as well as longtime broadcaster Bill Chadwick. When Chadwick passed away just three months ago in October 2009, Halligan wrote a personal tribute to "The Big Whistle".

Halligan's other books include New York Rangers: Seventy-Five Years, Images of Sport: New York Rangers, and The Game of My Life: New York Rangers.

Always working on his next project, Halligan was tirelessly devoted to ensuring that both NHL and Rangers history could be appreciated and enjoyed by fans everywhere. He was remarkably humble -- a consummate public-relations man far more interested in talking about others than himself.

At the 2007 Lester Patrick Trophy presentation, Halligan delivered a brief but touching speech that included his memories of how the Rangers organization created the Lester Patrick Trophy in the 1960s. Like so many other major events in hockey history, Halligan could speak with remarkable authority, because he had personally experienced them from the inside.

During his career, Halligan earned numerous professional and civic honors, including awards from the Public Relations Society of America, the City of New York, the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and the Metropolitan New York Hockey Writers Association. Halligan had also served on the selection committee of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame since 1990.

Halligan is survived by his wife, Janet.

Funeral Services will be held on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Vander Plaat Vermeulen Memorial Home in Franklin Lakes, N.J., followed by a 10 a.m. Mass at Most Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church in Franklin Lakes. Burial is at Christ the King Cemetery, Franklin Lakes

The family will receive family and friends on Friday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made in John’s memory to the Fordham University Alumni Fund, Fordham university Development Office, 888 7th Ave, 7th Floor, NY, NY 10019, The Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, 2 Shelter Lane, Oakland, N.J. 07436, or to The Randolph Animal Pound, Township of Randolph, 502 Millbrook Ave, Randolph, N.J. 07869.
View More