Jan. 5 (UPI) -- John Muckler, who won five Stanley Cup titles and coached hockey icon Wayne Gretzky at two different stages of his career, has died. He was 86.
The Edmonton Oilers said Muckler died Monday, but did not disclose the cause of death.
"On behalf of the Edmonton Oilers organization and John's many friends in the game of hockey, I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to [his wife] Audrey and the entire Muckler family," Gretzky said in a statement.
"When you have 22 pretty good hockey players and have enjoyed some success it's hard imagine that the addition of an associate coach would be the final piece to getting the Edmonton Oilers to the top of the mountain, but that's exactly what happened when John joined the team."
Muckler joined the Oilers as an assistant coach in 1981 after he held various roles over two decades with the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers. He also served as coach of the Minnesota North Stars in 1968-69.
The Midland, Ontario, native was an assistant coach when he won his first two titles with the Oilers in 1984 and 1985. He was then promoted to assistant head coach and won two more titles in 1987 and 1988.
Muckler became head coach in 1989 and teamed up with Gretzky for the franchise's fifth championships in seven years in 1990.
"He was tough, strict, but most importantly fair, and he helped lay the groundwork to make our team more accountable to each other, which propelled us to become champions," Gretzky said.
"A wonderful family man and great friend, he personally took my career to another level, and I will always cherish the hours we talked, from breaking down defenses to raising a family. Rest in peace, John, you will be missed."
Muckler posted a 75-65-20 record in two years as Oilers coach before he joined the Buffalo Sabres in 1991 as director of hockey operations. He later served as Sabres coach and posted a 125-109-34 record over parts of four seasons in that role.
Muckler reunited with Gretzky in 1997-98 when he became head coach of the New York Rangers. He had 70 wins, 88 losses, 24 ties and three overtime/shootout losses in three years with the franchise.
He became general manager of the Ottawa Senators in 2001. He again reunited with Gretzky when he became a senior advisor for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008. Gretzky was coach of the Coyotes from 2005-06 through 2008-09.
Muckler also coached three NHL All-Star Games and led Team Canada to Canada Cup victories in 1984 and 1987. He played as a defenseman for 13 years in the Easter Hockey League before his tenure as a coach and executive.