Gregory, former GM of the Maple Leafs and one of many first administrators of the NHL’s Central Scouting bureau, was a hockey lifer and probably the most beloved folks within the recreation. He handed away Wednesday at 83.Jim Gregory|Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesAs Jim Gregory’s well being declined and he was confined to a hospital mattress, the conga line of hockey folks coming to go to was continuous and powerful. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Invoice Daly stopped by. His former gamers, Darryl Sittler, Dave ‘Tiger’ Williams and Lanny McDonald, came over. Borje Salming known as to examine in. So did Lou Lamoriello and Harry Sinden.
These gestures had been all a testomony to a person who was a hockey lifer. In a recreation the place bitterness usually grows shortly and dramatically, the place grudges can final a lifetime, Jim Gregory by no means had an enemy within the recreation, by no means had a unfavourable factor to say about an individual, nor did anybody have one about him. “We had been simply speaking about that with him after we had been visiting him the opposite day,” stated one among Gregory’s closest associates, NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell. “I stated to him, ‘Jimmy you by no means stated a nasty phrase about Harold Ballard and also you deserved to say it greater than anyone.’ And he stated, ‘Nicely, , he did do some good issues.’ ”
The NHL confirmed Wednesday that Jim Gregory had died, lower than every week earlier than his 84th birthday. From the time he was minimize by the Jr. B workforce at St. Michael’s School till August when he lastly stopped displaying up daily on the NHL’s Toronto workplace, each one among them was spent giving one thing to the sport. He coached on the junior degree, profitable two Memorial Cups. He scouted gamers, was GM of the Maple Leafs for 10 seasons, then was one of many first administrators of the league’s Central Scouting Bureau. The 2019 draft in Vancouver was the primary he didn’t attend. Like, ever.
You’d suppose a man concerned within the recreation that lengthy and at that many ranges would make an enemy or two thousand alongside the way in which. However that might have required Jim Gregory to have a single strand of malicious DNA in his physique, which he didn’t. (A private apart. Gregory was inducted into the Hockey Corridor of Fame as a builder in 2007. On the time, he was the chairman of the choice committee, however was away on medical go away and had nothing to do with the choice. I didn’t like the choice and thought it nonetheless represented a battle of curiosity and made no effort to cover my opinion. Gregory by no means held it in opposition to me, providing his hand and a sort phrase each time we met.)
“Jimmy at all times discovered good in folks and he was the conscience of the sport,” Campbell stated. “He was an excellent man, an sincere man and at all times did all the best issues.”
After a profitable profession as a supervisor in junior hockey, Gregory joined the Maple Leafs as a scout in 1968, however it wasn’t lengthy earlier than he ascended into the GM’s chair, taking up for the legendary Punch Imlach. The Leafs had been coming into a lull after a 1960s dynasty that noticed them win Stanley Cups from 1962 by means of ’64 and one other in 1967. Regardless of the challenges he confronted working for the bombastic, unpredictable and bottom-line obsessed Ballard, Gregory put collectively a well-stocked group, hiring Pink Kelly and Roger Neilson as coaches, signing Salming out of Sweden and overseeing drafts that produced the likes of Sittler, McDonald, Williams, Errol Thompson, Ian Turnbull, Mike Palmateer and Randy Carlyle. Simply when it seemed as if the Leafs had been about to show a nook, Gregory was fired after the 1978-79 season and the Leafs set about placing themselves on a path to ineptitude that lasted greater than a decade. McDonald was traded the season after Gregory was fired and Sittler was gone two years later, all of the whereas the Leafs descending to laughing-stock standing within the NHL. Gregory came upon about his firing when the league known as him and requested him to take over the league’s Central Scouting Bureau.
However that stint with the league spanned 40 years. Gregory was a fixture on the draft, the place he would announce the picks from the second to seventh spherical. “All people seemed ahead to Jimmy’s pronunciations,” Campbell stated. Nicely into his 80s, Gregory would dutifully present up on the NHL places of work every day, usually staying nicely into the night time to observe video games with the league’s hockey operations division within the Toronto battle room.
“We might begin telling him to go dwelling at 7:30 or eight,” Campbell stated. “With all of the video games on there, he’d at all times have his eye on the Leafs. He’d lastly go away about 10 or 10:30. He’d grasp in there. He thought he needed to work all night time with the remainder of us and he’d apologize when he needed to go away and I’d say, ‘Jimmy, you don’t need to apologize.’ ”
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Tags: toronto maple leafs, nhlConnect: Concerning the AuthorKen CampbellKen Campbell, The Hockey Information’ senior author, is in his second tour with the model after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native as soon as tried out for the Ontario League’s Wolves as a 30-year-old. Evidently, it did not work out.