Puyol, 35, paid tribute to Vilanova, who inspired Barcelona to a 22nd Primera Division title last season despite spending much of his sole year in charge receiving treatment for throat cancer in New York.
"It's really tough news, not just because it's happened to a coach or a colleague, but because it's an illness," Puyol said. "The person is the most important thing.
"We remember how he talked to us, how he asked us to give everything, asked us to fight. We certainly did that and we did it even more because of him."