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Friday, September 24, 2004
Reay, 86, dies from liver cancer

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Billy Reay, who played on two Stanley Cup champions with Montreal and became the winningest coach in Chicago Blackhawks' history, died at 86.

Billy Reay was the winningest coach in Blackhawks history.

Reay died of liver cancer in Madison, Wis., on Thursday, Blackhawks spokesman Jim DeMaria said.

Reay became the Blackhawks' coach in 1963 after coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs for two seasons in the late 1950s. Over the next 14 seasons, his record was 516-335-161. His 516 wins is nearly three times as many as the next winningest Blackhawks coach, Bob Pulford, whose teams won 182 games.

His teams featured such greats as Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito. He won two league and three division regular-season titles. He also captured the Prince of Wales trophy and made three appearances in the Stanley Cup finals. Reay never won a championship as a coach, coming closest in 1971 when the Blackhawks lost to Montreal 3-2 in the seventh game after leading 2-0.

Reay played 10 seasons in the NHL, two with the Detroit Red Wings and eight with Montreal. With the Canadiens, he centered a line with one of hockey's all-time greats, Maurice "Rocket" Richard, and helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 1946 and 1953, his last year as an NHL player.

After he finished coaching, Reay lived for several years in Chicago and was a regular at Blackhawks games, said DeMaria, adding that Reay would watch the team practice on occasion.