Skip to main content

Bill Cowley

Bill Cowley was very much an early day Wayne Gretzky. He is considered to be the greatest playmaker in hockey while he graced the ice surfaces of the NHL.

Born in Bristol, Quebec in 1912, Cowley played his junior and senior hockey in Ottawa. He wasn't discovered by NHL scouts until he was 21 when he went on tour with the Ottawa Shamrocks in Europe in 1933. The Shamrocks, who went 33-0-2 in the tour, were led by the 5'10" 165lb center who dazzled on-lookers with his dizzying play. Praise wasn't the only thing Cowley got while in Paris that year. He soon would have a pro contract too. He returned to Canada where he relocated to and played senior hockey in Halifax, easily leading the league in all major statistical categories.

Cowley entered the NHL in the 1934-35 with the St. Louis Eagles. Cowley spent the season learning the ropes of the NHL. The Eagles however would only last the one season. Their players were dispersed around the league in a special draft. Boston eagerly picked up the slick stick-handler.

Cowley quickly developed into a superstar in Boston. He became an all star by 1938. By 1939 he led all playoff scorers in scoring as the Bruins won the Stanley Cup Championship. By 1940-41 Cowley was the best player in the league. He earned the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP while winning the scoring title and leading the Bruins to another Stanley Cup. He also set a new league record for assists in one season with 45.

Cowley's greatness was hampered by serious injuries. He missed much of he 1941-42 season with a broken jaw (broken in 5 places). He rebounded to capture his second Hart Trophy in 1942-43 (equaling his own season assist record) but had a fine 1943-44 season cut short by a separated shoulder. The injury cost him a shot at destroying the NHL single season scoring record. He was at 71 points with 6 weeks left. The old record was 73 points (held by Cooney Weiland). Cowley would rebound the next year but had a broken wrist in 1946. He retired at the end of the 1947 season.

At the time of his retirement, Cowley was arguably the greatest player the NHL had seen. He retired with 548 career points, enough for him to claim the title as the NHL's all time leading scorer until 1952. His 353 career assists were also all time highs.

Cowley never really got the notoriety such a fine player should have received. Despite his breathtaking play he was somewhat overlooked by playing for the Bruins at the time he did. In fact, on many nights Cowley was centering the second line as the famous Kraut Line of Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart remained Boston's key to success for much of Cowley's tenure. Cowley, who teamed often with hard-nosed Ray Getliffe and speedy Charlie Sands before centering sharp-shooter Roy Conacher and "Sudden Death" Mel Hill, would not be overlooked for very long though. Cowley was enshrined in Hockey's Hall of Fame in 1968.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M