Billy Reay, the first head coach of the Rochester Americans who would go on to become one of the winningest coaches in NHL history, has died at the age of 86.
Reay coached just three seasons in the AHL, but reached the Calder Cup Final each year and won a championship with the Buffalo Bisons in 1963.
He was the first head coach of the Rochester Americans, leading them to a 34-25-5 record in 1956-57. Reay guided the Bisons to a 36-31-3 mark in 1961-62, then took the club to a division championship and eventually the Calder Cup title in a thrilling seven-game win over Hershey in 1962-63.
Reay left Buffalo to join the Chicago Blackhawks the next season, and won 516 games over the next 13-plus seasons. He remains sixth all-time on the NHL’s coaching victories list with 542.
Reay was also an accomplished centerman in his playing days, winning two Stanley Cup championships with Montreal.
Reay died of liver cancer in Madison, Wis., on Thursday, according to the Blackhawks.