“We have lost a very beloved member of the San Jose Sharks family today,” said Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. “John Ferguson was one of the most beloved figures to ever represent the Sharks, as well as the entire National Hockey League. His sense of class, grace and love of the game of hockey is legendary among those who were fortunate enough to know and work with him. We will always carry his spirit with us and never forget the impact he has had in the success of this franchise. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family.”
Ferguson spent the past 11 seasons with the Sharks, originally joining the organization as western professional scout in 1996. He subsequently served as senior professional scout and, beginning in 2001, special assistant to the general manager.
In those roles, Ferguson provided critical assessment ofSharks players as well as preparing scouting reports on all professional leagues directly for Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson and, previously, former Sharks General Manager Dean Lombardi.
He served as a key evaluator of talent throughout the Western United States, Canada and Europe, including the American Hockey League and served as and advisor with Wilson on major franchise issues, including personnel decisions, trades and free agent acquisitions.
A National Hockey League veteran of exactly 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 and arguably, the toughest player to ever play in the National Hockey League.
Prior to joining the Sharks, Ferguson served as director of player personnel for the Ottawa Senators from 1992-95, where he was responsible for the team's scouting functions. During that time, Ottawa drafted future 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. Ferguson jumped to the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association for the 1978-79 campaign and promptly led the club to the WHA's final Avco Cup title as general manager. He guided the Jets from their charter NHL season in 1979-80 through the beginning of the 1988-89 campaign.
In 1982 and 1985, theVancouver, 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, the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
In January 2006, he was honored by the American Hockey League and selected to serve as an honorary team captain for the 2006 Rbk Hockey All-Star Classic.
Ferguson's son, John Ferguson Jr. who is the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, released the following statement:
''On behalf of my entire family, I'd like to thank the many friends, professional colleagues, medical personnel, and hockey fans who have supported us through this difficult time. Your expressions of sympathy have helped bring comfort to us. Your kind words have helped strengthen us.''
''My father battled cancer with the same spirit in which he played the game of hockey. He showed courage, strength, class and tremendous character. He had deep appreciation for the support he'd received from so many people beginning with his initial diagnosis. My father's spirit will continue to live on in all of us whose lives he touched.''