SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- George Gund III, an original co-owner of the NHL's San Jose Sharks, died Tuesday at age 75, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The cause of death was not released, the California newspaper said.
Current Sharks co-owner and former San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery praised Gund's devotion to the game of hockey and his decision to take a chance on the Bay Area with the Sharks' expansion franchise in 1991.
"He was both a gentle person and yet extremely passionate and aggressive about things such as hockey and personal relationships," McEnery said. "That's a very difficult combination."
George Gund and his brother Gordon, natives of Cleveland, originally held an ownership stake in the ill-fated California Golden Seals expansion team in the 1970s, which they moved to Cleveland in 1976, where they became the Barons.
After also faltering there, the team was allowed by the NHL to merge with the similarly struggling Minnesota North Stars in 1978.
The Gunds sought to move the North Stars to the Bay Area in the late 1980s, but were blocked by the league.
Instead, they sold the Stars and were awarded an expansion franchise -- the Sharks -- for the 1991-92 season. The Stars wound up in Dallas in 1993.