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Former New York Rangers player, coach Alf Pike dies at 91

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NEW YORK - Alf Pike, a member of the New York Rangers' 1940 Stanley Cup championship team, who later coached the club has died. He was 91.

Pike, who spent six seasons as a Rangers player and two as coach, died March 1 in Calgary. He was one of two surviving members of the 1939-40 team, the last Rangers club to capture the Cup before the 1994 squad won it according to the team's Web site.

Pike's death leaves 95-year-old Clint Smith as the only living member of the 1940 team who spent the entire season with the club. Smith is also the oldest living Rangers player.

Pike joined the Rangers organization as a 19-year-old junior player in 1937 and made his NHL debut two years later in Detroit against the Red Wings. As a rookie on the championship team, Pike had eight goals and nine assists in the regular season and three goals and one assist in 12 playoff games.

"I'll never forget that year," Pike said. "In the opener of the Cup finals against Toronto, I accidentally kicked in Toronto's tying goal and then scored the winner in 15:30 of sudden death."

Pike played 234 NHL games, all with New York, before he returned home to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to pursue a coaching career.

The forward, nicknamed "The Embalmer" because he had worked at a funeral home during the off-season, scored 42 career regular-season goals and added 77 assists. He had four goals and two assists in 21 playoff games.

He rejoined the organization as coach of the Guelph junior team in the early 1950s, and put together the Memorial Cup-winning team that included forward Andy Bathgate and defenceman Harry Howell, who recently had their numbers retired together by the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Pike was promoted to Rangers coach during the 1959-60 season, replacing former teammate Phil Watson, and stayed through the 1960-61 season.

"Alf was a super coach," Howell told the Guelph Mercury. "The team really had the attitude we weren't going to lose to anyone."

Pike's NHL career was interrupted by World War II, which caused him to miss the 1943-44 and 1944-45 seasons while he served in the Canadian military.

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