TORONTO (AP) _ Alan Eagleson, once a powerful hockey powerbroker now jailed for fraud, resigned Wednesday from the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Eagleson made the move six days before the hall’s board was to vote on whether to expel him.
The resignation is the first by any member of the major professional sports halls of fame in North America.
Scotty Morrison, chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame, said he received a letter of resignation from Eagleson, once considered the most powerful man in pro hockey.
``As far as I’m concerned, this brings these difficult circumstances to a conclusion,″ Morrison said in a news release.
``Mr. Eagleson’s plaque will be removed today from the Honored Members’ wall.″
The head of the NHL Players Association from 1967 until he resigned under pressure in 1991, Eagleson was once prominent enough to be considered a candidate for prime minister. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989 as one of the game’s builders.
In 1994, he was charged with skimming players’ pension funds and disability payments to pay for expensive clothing, theater tickets and an apartment in London. He pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud in Boston in January and was fined nearly $700,000.
He also pleaded guilty in Toronto to three more counts of fraud, apologized to those he harmed and began serving an 18-month sentence in prison. Under Canadian law, he could be out by May.
Several former players, including some enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Toronto, campaigned for Eagleson’s ouster. About 30 of them, including Brad Park, Bobby Orr and Ted Lindsay, had planned to attend a vigil to pressure the board to expel him.
In addition to his jail time, Eagleson has been disbarred by the regional law society, stripped of his status as a member of the Order of Canada and ousted from the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.