BRITISH COLUMBIA

Richard Loney, Longtime Vancouver Canucks Anthem Singer, Passes Away

09/10/2015 01:30 EDT | Updated 09/10/2015 01:59 EDT

The singer behind a familiar voice to generations of Vancouver Canucks fans has passed away.

The death of Richard Loney, who was the NHL team's anthem singer for more than 40 years, was announced in a statement on the Canucks' website.

"I was lucky enough to hear him sing O Canada so many times during my playing career. He’s been such a big part of our team’s history and was a true icon in B.C., lending his one-of-a-kind voice to the Lions, Whitecaps, Giants, and even at Safeco Field when the Blue Jays would come for their annual visit," said Canucks' president and former captain Trevor Linden.

Loney began singing the anthem during the Canucks' first NHL season in 1970-71 after reaching out to the team himself.

The singer was a left winger with the UBC Thunderbirds in the 1960s but later became a teacher, according to a 2011 profile in Victoria News. He also performed with the Vancouver Opera and Theatre Under the Stars.

Loney shared his secret with the outlet of how the calmed his nerves in front of the crowd at the Pacific Coliseum: "What I had to do was focus on a spot, one of the (rink) adverts and just stared at it and sang to that spot, trying to block out everything else. And it went fine."

Linden said on Wednesday: "He was such a nice man and I will miss him. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Marion, and his family and friends."

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