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11-01-2009, 10:32 PM
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Coach Billy Reay

Billy coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks from 1957 to 1976. His best years came in Chicago, where his teams never had a losing record and made the Stanley Cup finals three times. When his coaching career ended in 1976, he had 542 wins as a coach, second only to Dick Irvin at the time.

Voted 2nd best coach in the 1974 Toronto Star coaches poll (Shero)
Voted 3rd best coach in the 1976 Toronto Star coaches poll (Arbour, Shero

Tales from the Chicago Blackhawks, by Harvey Wittenberg:
Hawk teams coached under Billy Reay never had a losing record, made the playoffs in all but one season, and reached the Stanley Cup finals in ’65, ’71, and ’73. Under Reay, the Hawks had six first-place finishes, three second-place finishes, three third-place finishes, and one fourth-place finish.

Billy ranks among the all-time leaders in games coached, wins, and playoff appearances. His former players all speak highly of him and the way he treated them. Scotty Bowman told me that Billy was respected for his knowledge of the game, and his players were always prepared.
Reay was known for coaching in a dignified manner, and never showed up his players. "He treated the players like men," Hall-of-Famer Stan Mikita once said. He preached defense first, as demonstrated by his famous mantra, "None Against."
Chicago Tribune: January 27, 1991
The Hawks are fortunate they don't have to refer to history books when they point to a rich tradition. Ivan and Billy Reay, Hawk coach from 1963 to 1976, are at most of the Stadium games and remain staunchly loyal to an organization that didn't discard them for not having more success.
Sure, there might have been more championships in the 1960s, and that remains a sore spot for the pair even today.

"It was disappointing, very much so," Ivan frankly admits about being champion just once with players the caliber of Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Glenn Hall and never winning the big one with Tony Espositio in goal. "There were times we could have won and didn't."

Reay added: "Our defense was a little overrated. I agree wholeheartedly with that. Defense is the thing. It wins championships in the long run. But I've forgotten about it and remember the good times."

"When Bobby Hull left," Reay noted about Hull's defection early in the 1970s to the World Hockey Association, "it opened a big hole."

"It took us 10 years to recover," said present Hawks owner Bill Wirtz, speaking especially of the club's image after that loss.

Reay survived through good and bad until Christmas Eve 1976, when he was dismissed.

Reay, however, longs for the days when the Hawks played more of a possession game, when they skated the puck into the opposing zone more than dumped and chased it.

"I've always liked players who carry the pucks, guys like Denis Savard and Mikita," Reay said. "That's the game to me. Now, there's so much shooting the puck into the zone."
Dennis Hull:
It was during my first season that Billy Reay started to become the most influential figure in my life. Without a doubt he taught me more about life than my dad ever did
I had such a great group of teammates and a coach (Billy Reay) I had an immense amount of respect for.
First time I got a new pair of skates was when I turned pro with Chicago. My coach, Billy Reay, came out of his office on Christmas and gave me a box. I opened it and there was a brand new pair of skates. He said, 'I just wanted it to feel like you were home.' I said, 'This isn't like home, they're new!'
Keith Magnuson:
My best advice was from our coach, Billy Reay. He said, 'To be a leader, you have to be physical.' I wanted other teams to know I was on the ice. I was out there to make things happen."
Phil Russell:
Billy Reay was like a father to me after having lost my own dad. He became my role model. He looked out for me because I was so young. He taught me how to respect the game and how to represent the city of Chicago. He wasn't into butting heads with his players. He was into guiding them, getting them to work together.

Billy would say, Now, Phil, you go put yourself in front of the net and clear those people out.' I'll never forget when we got to the Stanley Cup finals in 1973. He said, Boys, enjoy yourselves. Play hard and don't give up because you may never get here again.' He was right. We lost to Montreal in six games.
He was regarded as a great psychologist as a coach. Billy told me he developed that approach from the legendary Montreal coach, Dick Irvin.

Mikita feels that Billy Reay was a “hell” of a coach who knew how to read his players and used a psychological approach to motivate. Stan remembers one game in which the team played a lousy first period and were getting beat. The coach delayed his appearance in the locker room between periods. Just before they were to go back on the ice for the second period, Reay came in and started shouting at his players. He singled out his two stars: Mikita and Hull. He told his players: “Don’t expect these guys to bail you out every game. They weren’t too hot in the last period, either! Now let’s go out there and do something!” As the players headed up the stairs to the ice, Reay pulled Mikita and Hull back and whispered to them, “Do you think my speech will get them going?” Apparently it did, as the team went on to rally and win the game.

Just before the Hawks were facing the California Seals at the Chicago Stadium on November 22, 1970, coach Reay handed Stan a letter and asked him to read it to the team. Mikita started reading the sob-story letter from an older woman who said she was an avid Blackhawks fan, and although she couldn’t afford to come to the games, she would listen to the games on the radio. She said she was a widow and that her children lived out of town. Stan told me he was starting to cry as he was reading the letter. The woman said she couldn’t listen anymore because someone stole her radio. Stan turned the page and the woman’s last words were, “I hope you guys find that S.O.B. who stole my radio, so I can hear the games again!”

Billy Reay’s psychology apparently worked as the Hawks went out and blanked the Seals 9-0 as Hull go the hat trick!
Some have said that Reay was responsible for Bobby Hull leaving Chicago. This quote from Sports Illustrated (November 12, 1973)suggests otherwise. The main cause of player-management disputes in Chicago was the Hawks cheap management, not Reay.
He never involved himself in salary matters until the Chicago management almost lost Bill White and Pit Martin to the WHA last year because of its naively callous indifference to the new league. "People don't realize it," said one Hawk, "but Billy, more than anyone else, has kept this club together. He has rebuilt us overnight about five times. Without him, who knows where we'd all be?"

Although Hull and Stapleton both left Chicago with bitter feelings toward top management, they still respect Reay. "If Billy had been running things himself," Hull once said, "I probably would never have left." It was Reay who, five years ago, ordered Hull to abandon his free-skating, gun-them-down style and play an orderly, conservative, close-checking left wing. And that undoubtedly added years to Hull's playing life.

Stapleton, now the playing coach of the Chicago Cougars of the WHA, met Reay recently at a luncheon and kidded with his old coach. "Billy showed great foresight during the years I played for him," Stapleton said. "He told me, 'Pat, if you work hard, do the job and stay patient, you'll be rewarded with the money you deserve.' What he didn't tell me was that I'd have to go to another team in another league to get it.
Reay will implement his possession-based attack with the Renfrew Millionaires' skilled forwards, while making sure that they don't neglect their defensive duties. He'll like the big, tough, and skilled defensive corps. While he's used to having an elite goaltender, now he has one who will bring his best game in the playoffs as well.

Last edited by overpass: 11-05-2009 at 11:14 AM.
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