John Ferguson, the Sharks special consultant to the general manager, is in the midst of one of the toughest fights of his life. And if the past holds true to the present, his opponent doesn’t stand a chance.
Widely regarded as hockey’s first true enforcer and unarguably one of the toughest competitors to ever lace up hockey skates, Ferguson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September – just days before his 67th birthday. Just recently completing a rigorous treatment schedule, Ferguson is looking forward to getting back to the rink.
I’ve been watching two or three games a night on TV to keep me busy and up to date on what’s happening in the League,” said Ferguson, who recently took in a Toronto Maple Leafs game with his son, John Ferguson Jr., the team’s general manager.
Ironically, for the past eight years, Ferguson has hosted an annual charity golf tournament in Windsor, Ontario with all of the proceeds benefiting prostate cancer research.
“I just want to say thanks to all of the people who sent their wishes and prayed for me,” said Ferguson.
This month, “Fergie” will be honored at the 2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic to be held Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
For his contributions to the League and the city of Winnipeg, the American Hockey League has chosen him to serve as an honorary team captain at the game, along with Ab McDonald. Ferguson played three seasons with the AHL’s Cleveland Barons and was a First Team AHL All-Star in 1963. Following his playing career, he served as the general manager of the Winnipeg Jets from 1978-79 through the beginning of the 1988-89 campaign (includes one season in the World Hockey Association).
In his current role with the Sharks, Ferguson provides critical assessment of Sharks players as well as preparing scouting reports on all professional leagues directly for Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson and consults with Wilson on major franchise issues, including personnel decisions, trades and free agent acquisitions.
A National Hockey League veteran of 500 games, all with the Montreal Canadiens, Ferguson played eight seasons in the League from 1963-71 and scored 303 points (145 goals and 158 assists) while racking up 1,214 penalty minutes. His career was highlighted by winning five Stanley Cup Championship rings and he was known as the undisputed top enforcer of his era. In 85 NHL playoff games, Ferguson notched 38 points (20 goals and 18 assists) and posted 260 penalty minutes.
Ferguson served as director of player personnel for the Ottawa Senators from 1992-95 where he was responsible for the team's scouting operations. During that time, Ottawa drafted NHL standouts such as Alexei Yashin, Pavol Demitra and Daniel Alfredsson.
After retiring as a player in 1971, Ferguson coached Team Canada to a remarkable victory against the former Soviet Union in the 1972 Summit Series. Following almost three years away from the game, he returned as the general manager and coach of the New York Rangers in 1976, where he served until 1977.
In 1982 and 1985, the Vancouver, British Columbia native was named executive of the year by The Hockey News. In addition, Ferguson was named executive of the year by The Sporting News in 1982, 1985 and 1987. Ferguson is a member of the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame and the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame.
Off the ice, Ferguson has translated his passion from the hockey rink to the horse track. He holds a full or part ownership in several horses and spent a few summers as a handicapper for the Montreal Gazette, posting a remarkable 58 percent winning record in one summer.