ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The man who brought joy back to Minnesota hockey fans has died.

Bob Naegele, Jr. passed away Thursday morning after a short battle with cancer. The successful business leader brought the NHL back to Minnesota after the North Stars left.

He’s a man known for putting others before himself, and he proved that by returning hockey to its flagship state. In an interview in March of 2018, Naegele said, “The thrill was never in being the owner, the thrill was in returning the NHL to Minnesota.”

A feat fans praise to this day.

“Getting an NHL team back, a lot of pride, this is our sport,” St. Paul native and hockey fan Brian Mottaz said.

Matt Majka is the president of the Minnesota Wild, and a friend to Bob Naegele.

“He just was relentless to do right by hockey fans, to bring the sport we all love back home and he did, so and he didn’t rest until he did so,” Majka said.

“Bob lived a state of hockey life. He grew up here in the western suburbs. He played ice hockey on frozen rinks and ponds. He was a goaltender at Minnetonka high school, he had it in his blood,” Majka added.

In an old interview, Naegele once said, “From childhood as the anthem says, we were raised with a stick and a puck and our mother was the referee, so that’s what the fans bring to the party.”

And he brought the party to them, a wild one at that, bringing his beloved Minnesota back to its original state of hockey.

“Bob’s legacy will live for a long, long, long time in that building and so will his spirit and that’s a pretty great gift,” Majka said.

For the rest of the season, Wild players will where a patch with “BN” on their uniforms. There will also be a moment of silence at the next home game on Tuesday.

Naegele Jr. is survived by his wife of 58 years, four children and 10 grandchildren. Funeral plans are still in progress.

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