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Flames founder Hotchkiss dies

Former Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss (left) steps onto the ice for the ceremonial puck drop at the...

Former Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss (left) steps onto the ice for the ceremonial puck drop at the Heritage Classic game in Calgary this past February. (QMI Agency/Lyle Aspinall)

RANDY SPORTAK and DAMIEN WOOD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:22 AM ET

CALGARY - Harley Hotchkiss, an instrumental figure in bringing the Flames to Calgary, successful businessman and tireless philanthropist has died of prostate cancer.

He was 83.

The sad news was confirmed by Flames President and CEO Ken King and co-owner and chairman Murray Edwards, who said he died around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning in his Calgary home.

“His reputation, which was really well-earned, was that of a gentleman. Somebody who was distinguished and who executed all of his obligations and his passions and his goals with great dignity,” said King.

Long-time friend and business partner, legendary Texas billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, saw Hotchkiss last Tuesday — he said they both knew then it might be the last time.

“We talked about a lot of things... he physically wasn’t doing well at all but his voice was very strong and he had things he needed to get done and intended to get done — his mind was very alert,” said Pickens.

“Harley was my best friend.

“It goes back so far. He was the first person I met in Calgary when I went up there in 1957.”

Family members, including wife Rebecca, were too distraught to comment Wednesday.

News of Hotchkiss’ passing quickly reached Ottawa and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who mourned the loss of one of his hometown heroes.

“A member of the Alberta Order of Excellence and a Companion of the Order of Canada, Harley, through his many charitable and business initiatives, helped transform Calgary into the thriving heart of the New West, said Harper.

“As a hockey fan, I will forever be grateful for his role in bringing the Flames to Calgary.”

Former Flame Captain Lanny McDonald said though he knew his former boss and life-long friend was struggling with an illness, he could not prepare for the news he received Wednesday morning.

He saw Hotchkiss last Thursday.

“I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for it — you’re devastated for the family but at the same time, having seen him recently, you don’t want to suffer, obviously ... he’s in a good place (now),” said McDonald.

“His work might be done, but it’s up to us to continue what he set in motion,”

McDonald and other players from Hotchkiss’ heyday say the man treated everyone like family.

Six Calgary businessmen, including Hotchkiss, Norman Green, Norman Kwong, Daryl and Byron Seaman and Ralph T. Scurfield, were invested in the Flames when the team was purchased in 1980.

Kwong, former Lt.-Gov. of Alberta, was deeply saddened by the news.

“Both (my wife) Mary and I have many fond memories of the times we spent with (Hotchkiss) — we shall remember him as a warm, friendly and generous person, who was deeply devoted to his family and to serving the community. Our sincere condolences go out to Becky and the Hotchkiss family,” said Kwong.

Hotchkiss’ contributions to the community included lending his name and years of support to the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary, from October 2004 right up to his death.

damien.wood@sunmedia.ca


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