Paul Shmyr, the former NHL and WHA defenseman who captained the Edmonton Oilers in Wayne Gretzky's first season with the team, has died after a battle
with throat cancer. He was 58.
Shmyr died Thursday, the Oilers said.
Shmyr, a native of Cudworth, Saskatchewan, played 511 games in the WHA, including 160 with the Oilers, and 343 in the NHL with Chicago, Minnesota,
California and Hartford. He captained the Oilers in 1978-79 - their last season in the WHA.
The defenseman, co-MVP of the WHA All-Star game in 1976 as a member of the Cleveland Crusaders, had 61 goals and 248 assists in the WHA and 13 goals
and 72 assists his NHL career.
Shmyr also played for the Vancouver Canucks in 1966-67, when the team was a member of the Western Hockey League.
"Paul was a terrific teammate and, pound for pound, was probably one of the toughest guys to play the game of hockey," former teammate Al Hamilton was
quoted as telling the Edmonton Sun. "He had a zest for life, which carried right though his courageous bout with cancer over the last 10 years. He
will truly be missed."
Ken Brown who was Shmyr's teammate with the Chicago Blackhawks, said he remembers his friend's humor. During road trips, Paul and other teammates
would often take a $5 bill, tie it to a string, and then place it on the floor at an airport. The line was then pulled if someone tried to grab the
"When you were around Paul, there were lot of laughs," Brown said. "He had a real zest for life."