Jack McIlhargey, 68, was part of the Vancouver Canucks family for 24 years

VANCOUVER—Former Canucks defenceman and coach Jack McIlhargey has died, the NHL club confirmed Monday. He was 68.

“We are deeply saddened to lose our friend Jack McIlhargey,” the Canucks tweeted. “He was one of the most respected and loved Canucks ever as part of the family for 24 years as a player, coach and alumni.”

The cause of death was not released.

The Edmonton-born McIlhargey played 393 NHL games while compiling 1,102 penalty minutes with the Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers and Hartford Whalers from 1974 to 1982 before becoming a coach.

He had a second coaching stint with the Canucks as an assistant from 1985 to 1991 before spending the next eight years as head coach of Vancouver’s minor-league affiliates in Milwaukee, Hamilton and Syracuse, N.Y.

McIlhargey finished his coaching career as an assistant with Philadelphia from 2007 to 2010.

In 1988, the Canucks sent McIlhargey to Russia along with goaltender Troy Gamble on an exchange program after they drafted Russians Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov. Larionov and Krutov eventually agreed to play for Vancouver, part of the first wave of Russian talent to arrive in the NHL.

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