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August 12, 2017

Hockey Heroes: Bill Goldsworthy

Bill was a hard shooting winger developed in the Boston Bruins junior and minor league system. He played with the Bruins OHA junior team in Niagara Falls and helped the Falls Flyers win the 1965 Memorial Cup.

"Goldy," as he was best known, never really got a chance to play with the Bruins however. He played parts of two injury plagued years with the Bruins but spent most of his time in the minor leagues.
Goldsworthy was the beneficiary of expansion when the NHL grew from 6 to 12 teams. 6 new teams meant approximately 120 news jobs in the NHL, and Goldy wanted to be one of those 120. That process began on June 6, 1967, when he was chosen by the Minnesota North Stars in the expansion draft.

Of all the players, chosen in the expansion draft, it was Goldy who may have had the best career. In Minnesota he developed into a fine goal scorer and became the North Stars first star attraction.

After a modest 14 goal, 33 point season in 68 games, Goldy exploded in the playoffs. In 14 games in the 1968 post season, Goldy led the entire National Hockey League in goals (8) and points (15). He also popularized the "Goldy Shuffle." The Shuffle is a now common routine for celebrating a goal, but it was Goldsworthy who really started it. Bill would lift one leg, and pump the opposite arm in
celebration of goals.

Goldy suffered a setback in 1968-69 season. Critics scoffed that he was a post season fluke and they scoffed more when he struggled through a terrible 1968-69 season. He scored only 14 goals in 68 games, just 6 more than he scored in 14 playoff games the previous spring. He only added 10 assists and was a horrendous -27.

However he silenced his critics in 1969-70 when he rediscovered his touch and scored a whopping 36 goals. And he proved it was no fluke for the next 5 years as he failed to score more than 30 goals only once. He scored a club record of 48 goals in 1973-74 season that stood for eight years before Dino Ciccarelli broke the mark in 1982. He captained the Stars from 1974-1976 and represented the team in 5 different all star games.

While Bill was more of a shooter than a playmaker, he was not a one-trick pony. He could play at both ends of the ice and was known as a solid team player. These all around qualities helped him to be selected on Team Canada's Summit Series roster that defeated the Russians in 1972. Goldy appeared in 3 of the 8 games, scoring 1 goal and 1 assist.

Bill was a very talented player who benefited from lots of playing time with the expansion North Stars. While he never got a chance to play in Boston, one would have to wonder how good Goldy would have been with a team that possessed a more talented supporting cast.

Late in his career the Stars traded their original franchise player to the New York Rangers. By this point in his career Goldy was showing his age and not contributing like he used to. His struggle with alcoholism was also starting to win the battle.

Bill played 68 games with the Rangers before finishing his career with the WHA's Indy Racers and Edmonton Oilers.

With the Stars franchise set to move from Minnesota to Dallas, the North Stars did something nice to remember their past. On February 15th, 1992 Bill's number eight was retired in a memorable ceremony in front of a sell out crowd at Met Center. It was one of the last great memories for North Star fans.

After retiring as a player, Bill moved into coaching. He was coaching the San Antonio Iguanas of the Central Hockey League when he was hospitalized on November 11, 1994. He had been feeling ill for two months, and learned during the stay that he was suffering from AIDS. Bill passed away in a Minneapolis hospital, May 24, 1996 of complications from the disease.

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