Roy Boe, a former owner in NHL, dies at 79

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Roy Boe, who owned both the Julius Erving-led New York Nets of the ABA and the fledgling New York Islanders of the NHL in the 1970s, has died. He was 79.

Boe of Fairfield, Conn., died Sunday at St. Vincent's Medical Centre in Bridgeport.

"I was closely associated with Roy when I was an assistant coach with the Nets," Nets president Rod Thorn said in a statement the NBA team released on Monday.

"Roy was a great guy to work for, was always upbeat, was a competitor, and provided us with the resources we needed to win. Roy was always very nice to me, and was a man who I was privileged to call my friend."

After purchasing the Nets from Arthur Brown in May 1969, Boe moved the team from Commack to West Hempstead - closer to New York City - and named St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca as his general manager and coach.

Carnesecca couldn't take the job for a year, but the team improved quickly, adding guard Bill Melchionni, centre Billy Paultz and high-scoring forward Rick Barry.

The Nets obtained Erving for the 1973-74 season and "The Doctor" immediately led the then-Kevin Loughery coached team to titles in 1974 and '76, the second in the final ABA season.

Boe and the Nets joined the NBA for the 1976-77 season in a merger along with San Antonio, Denver, and Indiana, but it was a costly move.

The Nets had to pay US$8 million - $3.2 million went to the NBA, and another $4.8 million went to the Knicks - as compensation for allowing them to continue as competitors in the same territory.

Boe was cash strapped and had to sell Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers for $3 million in 1976, and the Nets struggled for decades.

Boe sold his interest in the Nets to a partnership headed by Joseph Taub and Alan Cohen, the same year he got rid of the Islanders.

Boe became the original owner of the expansion hockey team in 1972, with his team playing at the Nassau Coliseum. The team made great strides in its infancy with players such as Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Billy Smith leading the way.

"It was Roy Boe's vision that enabled Long Island to become home of an NHL franchise and create a rich hockey history here," Islanders owner Charles Wang said in a statement released by the team.

However, Boe was in financial trouble. He was $10 million behind in payments for the Islanders startup costs and the Nets cost him more money making the move to the NBA. He eventually sold the Islanders to limited partner, John Pickett.

A Yale graduate, he later owned AHL franchises in Bridgeport, Conn., and Worcester, Mass.

"The American Hockey League is truly saddened by the news of Roy Boe's passing," said David Andrews, AHL President and CEO.

"He was a well respected member of our Board for many years and helped lay the foundation to bring AHL hockey to fans in both Worcester and Bridgeport."

Boe was honoured with the Thomas Ebright Award in 2004 in recognition of his career contributions to the American Hockey League.

Boe is survived by his wife, Betty Broderick Boe, and children Kate, Todd, Amanda, Sam and Susan, the Connecticut Post reported, adding that a memorial service was scheduled for Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fairfield.

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