The original owner of the San Jose Sharks, George Gund III, died in Palm Springs on Tuesday. He was 75.
Gund was instrumental in bringing professional hockey back to the Bay Area, along with his brother, Gordon. They were awarded an expansion franchise, soon named the San Jose Sharks, in time for the 1991-92 season. The Sharks played two seasons at the Cow Palace in San Francisco before moving into their permanent home, the current HP Pavilion, in downtown San Jose.
"It's a sad day for hockey and for San Jose," said Sharks Executive Vice President & General Manager Doug Wilson. "George was a wonderful person and a great ambassador for the game of hockey, which he truly loved. Everyone who had the privilege of playing or working for him has a heavy heart today. None of us would be here without him."
Jamie Baker, the Sharks’ current radio analyst who played for San Jose from 1993-96 and 1999, tweeted: “Sad news to hear about the passing of George Gund. He was a good man and owner who truly loved hockey. Rest in Peace, George.”
Gund’s foray into professional hockey began in 1975, when he acquired a minority share of the short-lived California Seals. That team eventually moved to Cleveland, and in 1978, the Cleveland Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars. The Gund brothers sold their shares in the North Stars before spearheading the effort to found the Sharks.
Gund was inducted into the San Jose Sports Authority Hall of Fame in 2008.
The cause of death was not released.