May 05, 2016

Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett was the youngest member of the Warwick, Rhode Island family to play in the National Hockey League, but he certainly wasn't the smallest. At 6'5" and 235 pounds Bill was one big hockey player in any era, but especially in the 1970s.

Bill is the son of Harvey Bennett, a long time AHL goalkeeper with Providence who also spent a season with the Boston Bruins during World War II. Harvey had 5 sons who all played pro hockey, three of which played in the NHL - Curt, the most successful, Harvey Jr., a big center, and Bill. Brothers Jim (CHL) and John (WHA) also played.

Unlike his brothers, Bill never attended college. The Bennett offspring were somewhat legendary on the college circuit, especially at Brown University where Curt, Jim and John all starred. Harvey Jr. played at Boston College. But Bill went straight from high school to the pro ranks, signing for a season with Columbus Owls of the weak IHL in 1976-77. Perhaps Bill and his supporters felt that with his size he could jump to the pro game quicker than others and that maybe the college route wasn't quite for him. And perhaps aided by brothers Curt and Harvey Jr.'s success at the NHL level the Boston Bruins were quick to sign Bill to a free agent contract.

By the end of his first pro year Bill was playing at a higher level of minor league hockey, playing in the playoffs with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. He played two more seasons in Rochester, blossoming into a 30 goal scorer in 1978-79. That same season Bill was brought up to the NHL for his first taste of action - a 7 game stint where he impressed 1 goal and 4 assists!

The WHA collapsed in the summer of 1979, and the NHL took on its 4 remaining teams. The result was an expansion draft to stock the 4 teams, and Bill was left unprotected by the Bruins. He was picked up by the nearby Hartford Whalers. He played in 24 games with the Whalers that 1979-80 season, scoring 3 goals and 6 points, but finished the year in the AHL

Bill never made it back to the NHL. He spent the next two years struggling through injuries as he bounced around with 3 minor league teams. By the summer of 1982, Bill gave up the game.

Bill returned to Rhode Island and is very active in the family sporting goods business, Bennett Sports, to this day.

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