September 09, 2015

Bill Shill

Bill Shill was a once promising Toronto Maple Leafs prospect that the let slip through their fingers.

In 1944 there was no internet or television, so information hardly flowed fast at all back then. The Leafs thought they could sneak another, unnamed prospect on their reserve list, but that meant dropping another one for a mandatory 48 hour period.

The Leafs removed Shill from their list, only to be shocked that the Boston Bruins had found out and snatched him up. It seems that Boston scout Harold "Baldy" Cotton found out and immediately made the move.

It looked like a promising move for the Bruins.

His very first game was something to never forget. Because of a visa papers delay at the Canada/USA border, Shill did not arrive at his first Bruins game until the second period. No worries. He quickly put on his skates, joined his new teammates and scored a spectacular goal. The only problem was he crashed into the goal posts - in those days the posts were solidly built into the building and did not move at all - and required five stitches to close the gash on his ankle.

In his first seven games he scored four goals and five points. But then the military called. World War II was raging and there was more important things than hockey on the line. Shill was off to serve his country with the navy. He was stationed first in Toronto and then in Newfoundland.

Shill did not return to the Bruins until 1945-46. Playing on the “Sprout line” together with Don Gallinger and Bep Guidolin, Shill had two injury plagued seasons with the Bruins before disappearing to the minor leagues.

His best years in the minors were spent with the Vancouver Canucks of the old PCHL in the early 1950s. He also played for the East York Lyndhursts who infamously lost to the upstart Soviets ad the 1954 World Championships.

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