Former North Stars, U of Minnesota coach Sonmor dies at 86

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Former Minnesota North Stars and University of Minnesota coach Glen Sonmor, who led the NHL team to the 1981 Stanley Cup Final, died Monday at age 86.

Sonmor died at a nursing home in Canada after battling Alzheimer's disease, according to former North Stars general manager Lou Nanne, who said he learned of his death from Sonmor's sister, Jean.

''He was a tremendous guy. He was very charismatic, very energetic. He loved the sport of hockey as much as anybody,'' Nanne told The Associated Press.

A native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Sonmor coached the Minnesota Gophers from 1966-71, compiling a record of 77-80-6. He was named WCHA Coach of the Year after Minnesota won the regular-season title in 1970.

''We lost one of biggest supporters today in Coach Glen Sonmor,'' Gophers coach Don Lucia said in a statement. ''We'll miss his stories and his dedication to hockey in the state of Minnesota.''

Sonmor coached the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association before becoming the North Stars' coach in 1979. He led the North Stars to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1981, losing to the defending champion New York Islanders.

Sonmor later returned to the Gophers and spent 15 years as the hockey team's color analyst for radio broadcasts until retiring in 2011. He also was director of player development for the Minnesota Moose of the International Hockey League and served as an amateur scout for the Minnesota Wild.

In 1986, Sonmor received the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to hockey in the U.S. He also played 28 games in the NHL, all with the New York Rangers, in the mid-1950s, scoring two goals as a forward.