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Alan Thicke, Canadian actor and dedicated NHL fan, died playing hockey with his son on Tuesday. He was 69 years old.
According to TMZ, Thicke was playing hockey with his 19-year-old son, Carter, when he suffered a heart attack. He was transported to Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank around noon local time and pronounced dead soon after.
Thicke is survived by his wife, Tanya, and three sons: Robin, Brennan and Carter.
With a career that spanned back to the 1960s, he was best known for his role as Dr. Jason Seaver on the ABC sitcom “Growing Pains” from 1985-92. But Thicke crafted a career that included a slew of appearances as an actor and as himself, hosting a late night talk show (“Thick Of The Night,” 1983-84) and serving as a panelist on game shows like “Match Game.” He also wrote the theme songs for shows like “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life.”
Thicke was a lifelong NHL fan, and had a rather surreal relationship with the sport and its personalities.
He started life as a Montreal Canadiens fan, before rooting for the Los Angeles Kings after relocating from Canada to Hollywood.
In 1979, he wrote and helped perform the song “Hockey-Sock Rock,” with proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
That’s Phil Esposito, Ron Duguay, Pat Hickey, Dave Maloney and John Davidson singing along with Thicke.
Thicke was a staple at NHL events throughout his life, as a fan (at Kings games), as a player (he skated for the Anaheim Ducks in the 2014 Stadium Series celebrity game) and as a performer at the NHL Awards, which he opened in 1988 with a surreal musical performance:
But Thicke’s greatest connection to the game might have been his relationship with Wayne Gretzky, whose wedding he emcee’d.
His friendship with The Great One started in the early 1980s.
“Alan was a mentor. He really guided me as far as things I did away from hockey, whether it was hosting Saturday Night Live or being a special guest on Canadian TV shows,” Gretzky told Grantland in 2014.
Thicke said he helped nurture the relationship between Gretzky and Kings owner Bruce McNall, setting the table for the blockbuster trade with the Edmonton Oilers that brought the Great One to California.
From Grantland, a memorable story about Gretzky watching Thicke’s son when the deal was finalized:
McNall: I remember calling when the deal was finally done. It was early in the morning and I had to get Wayne to the airport with me to fly on to Edmonton, and it was [his son] Robin who answered the phone. I said, “Robin, I need Wayne,” and he said, “What’s going on, what’s going on?” And I said, “The deal is done, we got him.”
Thicke: Yeah, that’s all true. I was in Norway with my son Brennan, and Wayne and Janet were taking care of Robin. Robin answered and said, “I’m sorry, Wayne is asleep.” And McNall said, “Well, you better wake his ass up.”
McNall: A lot of celebrities showed up after we got Wayne, but Alan was a fan and a friend and everything else way before the Gretzky trade ever took place. When Alan was in town, I always had him to our pregame dinners, and he would bring his sons to the locker room. He had carte blanche. He was sort of a mini celebrity captain. He and John Candy split up duties. All the players knew him — it wasn’t just Wayne. They loved him.
And Alan Thicke loved hockey. Condolences to his family and friends on their loss.
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