October 15, 2004 by

Billy Reay

8 comments

Categories: Sports

breay.jpgWilliam T. “Billy” Reay, the winningest coach in Chicago Blackhawks’ history, died on Sept. 23 of liver cancer. He was 86.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Reay broke into the National Hockey League in 1943 when he was tapped to play for the Detroit Red Wings. Two seasons later, he was traded to Montreal where he remained for eight seasons. A center for the Canadiens, Reay helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 1946 and 1953.
When Reay retired as a player in 1953, he decided to work behind the bench. There he developed a reputation as a “player’s coach,” one who treated his men with respect and used creative motivational tools. After coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs for two seasons in the late 1950s, Reay became the Blackhawks’ coach in 1963. Over the next 14 seasons, he built an extraordinary record of 516 wins, 335 losses and 161 ties.
Reay’s teams finished first six times and made three appearances in the Stanley Cup finals. Although he never won a championship as a coach, Reay came close in 1973 when Chicago lost to Montreal 3-2 in the seventh game.

8 Responses to Billy Reay

  1. Kathryn Krause

    Mr. Reay was my sister’s father in-law. His
    son Bill is my brother in-law. I have known Mr. Reay for nearly 30 year’s and found him to be
    most delightful, and fun to be around. It was
    always exciting to celebrate most Holiday’s with
    him . There is a big void in my life without him. He’ll be well missed and will never be forgotten by our family.

  2. Kevin Reay

    Billy was my great uncle who I never met. But he was still one of my heroes growing up, even if i’m a Bruins fan. His brother is my Grandfather. I just think it is so cool that my last name is on the cup. And that he is in the Manitoba Hockey Hall Of Fame.

  3. Charlie C.

    I grew up in Chicago in the 1960’s and hockey was my favorite sport. Billy Reay coached some of the most colorful players of that era. Names like Hull, Mikita, Esposito, Nesterenko, Pilote, Hall and Magnuson. What great memories I have of Coach Billy standing in the players bench waving his arms and pointing this way and that. And always wearing his trademark fedora. He had bright eyes and a warm smile. He was more than a coach to many of the young players, he was a good friend and they were fortunate to play for him. I wish I could have known him myself.
    God bless Billy Reay.

  4. ROCKY DELLA SERRA

    I REMEMBER BILLY REAY WHEN I WAS A KID THE COACH OF THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS HE SEEMED LIKE A BIG TIME COACH VERY COOL & CLASSY . WHEN THE HAWKS WERE IN TOWN TO PLAY THE HABS, YOU NEW THERE WAS GREAT GAME WITH ALL HIS GREAT PLAYERS! BILLY JUST FIT IN THERE, THE HAWKS WERE POWERFUL! WHEN I THINK OF HIM I THINK OF THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF THE NHL!
    ROCKY DELLA SERRA

  5. George Fisher

    Grew up in Chicago in the 60/70’s and was a huge hockey fan. BUT I was a Bobby Orr Fan . SOOOOO you know my Dad was alitle careful with me at games . I was 9-10 etc… What GREAT memories I have and Mr. Reay is part of that fabric !!! I live in Florida now and have ran into Stan Mikita a few years ago. WOW

  6. Anne Atchison Watson

    Hi
    I am a 2nd cousin of Billy Reay’s originally from Winnipeg living in the US.
    and trying to connect with his family.
    Please respond to tis so we could connect.
    Thanks
    Anne

  7. Alain B.

    Billy Reay came close in 1971 (leading 2-0 and 3-2 in the series, 2-0 in the 7th game also) not in 1973 even if the Hawks (after losing some players to the newly created WHA) also made the Finals (in 1973) but lost in 6 games to the Montreal Canadiens that time.

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