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Legendary Player and Coach Billy Reay Passes Away At 86

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Legendary Coach Billy Reay Passes Away At 86

September 24, 2004

CHICAGO – The winningest coach in the history of the Chicago Blackhawks, William T. "Billy" Reay, passed away on Thursday afternoon, September 23rd, in Madison, Wisconsin at the age of 86.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on August 21, 1918, Billy enjoyed a successful career in the National Hockey League as both a player and coach. He broke into the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings in 1943 but enjoyed most of his success as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. After two seasons in Detroit, Billy was traded to Montreal where he played for eight years. He centered a line with the great Maurice "Rocket" Richard on his wing and was a member of two Stanley Cup Championships in Montreal (1946 and 1953). He retired as a player following the 1952-53 season.

Billy coached 16 seasons in the National Hockey League. He coached the Toronto Maple Leafs for two seasons, 1957-58 and 1958-59, before taking a four year hiatus from coaching. He returned behind the bench for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1963 where he coached for 14 seasons. As the Head Coach of the Blackhawks, he posted 516 wins which still ranks first among all-time Blackhawks coaches. He coached the Blackhawks to their first ever Prince of Wales Trophy in 1966-67.

Overall, under Billy's direction, the Blackhawks had six first place finishes and three appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals. His coaching record with the Blackhawks was 516 wins, 335 losses, and 161 ties in 1,012 games. His overall career coaching record was 542 wins, 385 losses, and 175 ties in 16 years. In honor of his 542 coaching victories, the National Hockey league presented Billy with a Milestone Award.

When asked about his most memorable moment as a Blackhawk, Billy remarked, "Just having the opportunity to coach the Blackhawks for 14 years was my biggest thrill."

Visitation will be on Sunday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Gunderson Funeral Home, 7435 University Avenue, in Middleton, Wisconsin 53562. (608) 831-6761. The funeral will be on Monday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at Blackhawk Church, 110 N. Whitney Way in Madison, Wisconsin 53705. (608) 238-0183. There will be a one-hour visitation at the church prior to the funeral service

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