Chicago Blackhawks coach Billy Reay (Photo courtesy of blackhawks.nhl.com)
Billy Reay 1963-1977
It’s that time of the week for a little Chicago Blackhawks Throwback Thursday (coaches edition) and we are going way back into the archives for one of the true great coaches in Chicago Blackhawks history. I hope you enjoy learning a little info on Billy Reay because I know I sure enjoyed digging into his past!
Billy Reay (August 21, 1918 – September 23, 2004) was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He began his hockey career as a player in the junior leagues at the age of 18. On October 2, 1939 he was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Red Wings at the age of 21. Detroit wanted him to continue to develop as a player and sent him for assignment to the Omaha Knights of the AHA and then the Quebec Aces of the QSHL. In 1944 and 1945 he was given two brief stints in the NHL but the Detroit Red Wings didn’t keep him around long. On September 11, 1945 Billy Reay was traded to Montreal by Detroit for Ray Getliffe and Roly Rossignol which served as Reay’s big break of his career.
From 1945-1953 Billy Reay played 8 solid years of NHL hockey for the Montreal Canadiens and was able to win the Stanley Cup 2 times with them in the 1945-46 season and the 1952-53 season. Overall he played in 479 NHL games scoring 105 goals with a total of 267 points. In addition he contributed to 63 playoff games scoring 23 goals and 29 points total.
Shortly after retiring in 1955 from the NHL he decided to get into coaching with the Seattle Americans of the WPHL as the bench boss. From there he took a position with Rochester before he made the leap to the NHL as a head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1957. He was with the team for a season and a half and had a stint in Bellville, Sault Ste. Marie, and Buffalo following that. Then in 1963 he was given the head coaching position to the Chicago Blackhawks hockey club. This would be where he rose to fame as an elite NHL coach.
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For the next 14 years Billy Reay would have the opportunity to coach some of the Chicago Blackhawks all-time greats such as Glenn Hall, Bobby Hull, and Stan Makita, just to name a few. Over this course of 14 years he racked up 1012 games as coach with 516 wins, 335 losses, and 161 Ties. During the playoffs as a coach he recorded 117 games coached with 57 wins and 60 losses. He coached the Chicago Blackhawks to 6 1st place finishes and 3 Stanley Cup Finals in 1965, 1971, and 1973 but unfortunately was never able to hoist the Stanley Cup with any of those teams.
When his coaching career was finally said and done upon his retirement in 1976, Billy Reay retired as the coach with the most wins in Chicago Blackhawks franchise history, which still holds true to this day. He also was known as one of the winningest coaches in NHL history but since has been passed by several others on the list.
Any Billy Reay fans out there on Throwback Thursday? Let me know what your thoughts are or any specific memories you may have in the comments below!
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