Calgary Flames executive Ken King has died. He was 68.

King, from Hanley, Sask., was vice-chair and chief executive officer of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which owns the Flames.

King became president and CEO of the NHL team in 2001 after three decades as a newspaper executive.

He was the public voice of the Flames’ ownership group comprised of Murray Edwards, Alvin Libin, Allan Markin, Jeff McCaig and the late Clayton Riddell.

When the team’s business intersected with the city’s — as was the case in negotiations for a new NHL arena — King’s comments reflected the position of the owners.

He and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi were thus the central figures in those negotiations, which created strife between the team and city council before the two sides came to an agreement in 2019.

“Ken was the right leader at the right time for CSEC. His leadership and passion was exhibited every day in his successful delivery of the new Calgary event centre,” CSEC chairman and co-owner Murray Edwards said in a statement. “He was a trusted confidant to all of the Flames owners, both past and present, and we all learned so much from him. My partners and I will miss our frequent conversations with our dear friend.”

King oversaw the quick reclamation of the Saddledome following the 2013 spring flood that submerged everything in the building below row eight.

The arena was ready, however, for Flames’ pre-season games that September.

“His vision and steady hand have been instrumental in the success of both the Flames and the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. And his staunch advocacy for the arena project that will guarantee the Flames’ long-term viability in Calgary will serve as a legacy of his devotion to the city,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Ken was a friend and I will miss him greatly. My sincere condolences go out to his family.”

Prior to joining the Flames, King was publisher of both the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald, as well as a manager for the Toronto Sun and United Press Canada.

He received honorary degrees from the University of Calgary in 2012 and Mount Royal University in 2014.

King is survived by his wife Marilyn, two daughters and four grandchildren.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2020.

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