In terms of the greatest coaches of all time, Billy Reay is not a name that comes up that often.
However, his contributions to the Chicago Blackhawks are absolutely monumental, and Reay helped to mold the 60’s era team into what they were.
Reay was behind the bench in Chicago for an astounding 14 years, a benchmark that is still a Blackhawks record. He is the Hawks’ all-time leader in games coached, guiding Chicago for 1012 games from 1963 to 1977. Even more astounding, the Blackhawks only missed the playoffs 2 out of those 14 years.
Reay would also lead the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals three times, including a 49-win season in 1971 that saw them lead the Western Conference with 107 points. Sadly, the Hawks were unable to capture the Cup in any of these three trips. However, the mark that he left on the team was undeniable.
The late, great Stan Mikita reflected on Reay in 2012, and talked about the great respect that he had for his former head coach:
"He let players play and demanded only that you give your best. Ask the guys who played for him. Billy Reay was a terrific coach and a good man. A real good man."
While he will always be considered one of the best of all time, Billy Reay falls just short of the best Hawks coach ever.