On Wednesday, Jack Riley, the first general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, passed away at 97.
We are deeply saddened by the passing of the Pens’ first GM, Jack Riley. Our condolences to Jack’s family & friends. https://t.co/vIIQyWq9Xp
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 14, 2016
Shortly after Riley passed away, the Penguins released the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Jack Riley. Jack served as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first general manager in 1967 and played an important trailblazing role in the club’s history. He occupied a regular seat in the press box until just a few years ago, was a proud and beloved member of the Penguins alumni association and is fondly remembered by former players, coaches, scouts, office staff, arena workers and fans. As the Penguins approach our 50th anniversary season, we are humbled to know that the franchise was built on the shoulders of hard-working people like Jack. We send out condolences to his family and many friends, both in Pittsburgh and throughout the hockey community. Jack Riley will be missed.”
Riley, a native of Toronto, served as general manager of the franchise from its founding in 1966 until 1970, and again from 1972 until 1974. Between those two periods, Riley held the post of interim president and executive director of the Penguins, later serving as a scout for the team. After his career with the Penguins, Riley also became the Commissioner of the Southern Professional Hockey League and President of the International Hockey League.
Riley remained active with the Penguins Alumni Association well into his 90s and was inducted into the Penguins Hall of Fame in 2000.
In 2014, former Penguins head coach Eddie Johnston commented on the impact Riley had on the franchise, “He’s done so much for us. There’s no better gentleman than Jack. They don’t come any beter. Jack’s a jewel.”