Through 500 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, John Bowie Ferguson was the undisputed heavyweight champion, accumulating 1,214 penalty minutes.
Today, the former general manager of the Winnipeg Jets is "starting the toughest challenge" when he begins radiation for bone cancer in a Toronto hospital.
"It's another setback that we're back fighting this problem," Ferguson, 68, told the Sun yesterday.
In September 2005, Ferguson had his cancerous prostate removed at a London, Ont., hospital and appeared to be healthy.
When he felt lethargic with severe knee and shoulder pain a few weeks ago, Ferguson consulted a doctor and learned of the latest cancer.
He will take the first of five radiation treatments at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto this morning.
"It's on an outpatient basis," said Ferguson. "After that we'll be getting chemotherapy."
During his treatments, Ferguson and wife Joan will stay with their son, John Jr., general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Tell the people of Winnipeg they did a cracker jack job on the Grey Cup but we wouldn't expect anything less because the city knows how to throw a party," said Fergie. "Did you know that Joannie was a Lions cheerleader in 1954?"
Ferguson informed best friend Ted Foreman about his cancer last Friday.
"It took me by surprise, but he's a fighter," said Foremen from his Winnipeg home.
Now a special consultant with the San Jose Sharks, Ferguson was one of the most feared players in NHL history. He took on the toughest opponents for the Montreal Canadiens, winning five Stanley Cups in over eight years. But he could score, too, with 303-career points. He also added 20 goals and 38-playoff points in 85 games.
During his nine seasons as general manager with Winnipeg, Ferguson's Jets were perennial losers to the Edmonton Oilers in division playoffs.
Last Saturday, Ferguson was forced to miss the Montreal ceremony honouring his good friend Serge Savard whose sweater was hauled to the rafters of the Bell Centre.
"A number of people wondered why I wasn't there, and now they know," said Ferguson.