Knoxville Ice Bears principal owner John Axford dies

Knoxville Ice Bears principal owner John Axford dies

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knoxville Ice Bears principal owner John Axford passed away early Tuesday morning according to the team.

A team spokesperson says Axford, 78, died Tuesday morning at 4 a.m. He had been battling health issues for the past four years.

Axford is remembered by many as the man who saved professional hockey in Knoxville. He stepped in when the Knoxville Speed closed up operations in 2002.

He rallied support, took an active role as the team's principal owner and helped the Ice Bears hoist three championships trophies.

A memorial service will be held at Central Baptist Church on Deane Hill Drive Thursday at 5 p.m.

The Ice Bears open the season Friday at the Civic Coliseum.

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