NHL commissioner Gary Bettman calls former GM Sam Pollock “a giant”

Canadian
Press

NEW YORK (CP)
– NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called Sam Pollock “a giant” of
hockey a day after the former Montreal Canadiens’ vice president and general
manager’s death.

“Sam
Pollock’s legacy extends far beyond the nine Stanley Cup championships the
Canadiens won in his 14 years of leadership,” Bettman said in a statement.
“His genius was seeing genius in others – players, coaches, future
executives – before anyone else did, and his influence around the hockey world
was unmatched. The game has lost a giant. We send condolences to his family and
friends.”

Pollock
died of cancer in

Toronto
on Wednesday. He was 81.

The

Montreal native joined
the Canadiens as a scout in 1947 and served as general manager from 1964 to
1978, during which time he built a reputation as the shrewdest deal-maker and
evaluator of talent in the league. He was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a
builder in 1978.

The
Canadiens current GM Bob Gainey, a former team captain who was drafted by
Pollock, called him “a source of inspiration for everyone around him, and
especially the players.

“His
leadership was contagious and he proved to be a model for all the players who
played under him in the 1960s and during the years I was part of the team. That
unique environment which we were part of during those winning years in the
1970s played a significant role in preparing many of us to embark on a front
office career in the NHL.”

More than
a dozen

Montreal
players from the 1970s went on to become GMs or coaches in the NHL, including
Gainey, Serge Savard, Ken Dryden, Doug Risebrough, Rejean Houle, Jacques Lemaire,
Larry Robinson and Mario Tremblay.