SAULT STE. MARIE -- The man known as Mr. Hockey in Sault Ste. Marie has passed away. Angelo Bumbacco, 88, passed away Oct. 27.

"Whenever you talked about Sault Ste. Marie and the Soo Greyhounds … Wayne Gretzky and Angelo Bumbacco were two names that would always come together," said Kyle Raftis, general manager of the Soo Greyhounds. "Those were two names that are synonymous with the organization."

For more than 60 years, Bumbacco was involved with hockey in Sault Ste. Marie. He was one of the founders of the Soo Greyhounds and held numerous post with the team.

"He has served in pretty much every capacity that one could be involved in," said Tim Lukenda, current owner of the team. "He was a general manager, he was a coach for a time. He’s been on the board of directors for decades." 

If it wasn't for Bumbacco, Wayne Gretzky wouldn't have suited up for the red and white. And he made the decision to draft Eric Lindros when the Big E said he wouldn't play for the Hounds.

Bumbacco and his colleagues eventually traded Lindros to Oshawa and the players the team received helped push the Greyhounds over the top to win the franchises first and only Memorial Cup in 1993.

Encouraged Kyle Dubas

He was the person who encouraged a then 26-year-old Kyle Dubas to apply for the general manager job. Dubas said he wouldn't be the current general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs without Bumbacco's support.

"Without his continued support, I definitely don’t think that works out in 2011 and certainly not fortunate enough to continue to progress in the hockey the way it has gone," said Dubas. "I feel like I owe a lot to Angelo and his consistent guidance, mentorship and friendship to me over the years.

Dubas said Bumbacco would always watch the first two periods of every home game with the Greyhounds staff before leaving his seat and joining his wife in the stands. He said Bumbacco was the only person he ever saw do that while working in hockey. It showed the love he had for his wife.

Bumbacco won a Stanley Cup in 2004 while working as a scout for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lukenda, Dubas and Raftis all said Bumbacco always had a story to tell and he could lighten the mood no matter where he was.

Wayne Gretzky, broadcasters Bob McKenzie and Joe Bowen all tweeted condolences after learning of Bumbacco's passing.