The Hockey Hall of Fame is welcoming seven new members into its prestigious halls on Monday, November 9, 2015. Join us here at Last Word On Sports as we take an in depth look at the new inductees. We continue the series with Chicago Blackhawk great and former Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Bill Hay.
Sometimes it’s the career you have after being a hockey player that makes you eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame. After seeing his teammates Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull make it to the Hall of Fame with ease, William Charles “Red” Hay saw himself on the outside despite some excellent seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, including winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1960, two-All Star Games in 1960 and 1961 and winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 1961. It is instead his work as Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame that sees Hay inducted as a builder.
2015 HHOF INDUCTION PROFILE: BILL HAY
Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on December 9, 1935, Hay had athleticism flowing through his veins. His mother was a track and field star. His maternal uncle played in the National Hockey League in the 20s and 30s. His father, Charlie Hay, was a goaltender and better known as the President of Hockey Canada. His role in the negotiations for creating the Summit Series in 1972 landed him as a builder into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1974. 41 years later, Hay joins him.
Having a family history of athleticism proved valuable to Hay when he earned an athletic scholarship with Colorado College to play hockey after playing with the Regina Pats in the Western Canada Junior Hockey League. A two time all-star with Colorado College, he led the Colorado College Tigers to the national college championship. Hay became the first NCAA graduate to be a regular NHL contributor, openly the doors for the NCAA to be a common avenue for future NHL stars.
Hays played for the Calgary Stampeders of the Western Hockey League before joining the National Hockey League, signing with the Chicago Black Hawks. His rookie year in 1959-60 included 18 goals and 37 assists for 55 points in 70 games, earning a spot on the NHL All-Star team and gaining the attention of the league. Hays was put in a great position at centre with Bobby Hull on his left wing and Murray Balfour on his right wing, forming the league-wide feared “Million Dollar Line”. In his sophomore year, Hays found an A on his sweater and improved on his previous numbers with 59 points in 69 games. The Chicago Black Hawks went to the Stanley Cup finals, defeating Gordie Howe’s Detroit Red Wings in five games. It was the only Stanley Cup in the 1960s not to be one by either the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadiens, and the only final to feature neither team. It would be the last time the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup until 2010.
Hay played great for the Black Hawks in the 60s, notching a career best 23 goals in 1963-64. He decided to retire to get into business in 1966, yet returned to the NHL the next season to play 36 games. The Chicago Black Hawks had a feeling he would try to retire again and left him unprotected in the 1967 Expansion Draft. Hays was selected by the St. Louis Blues, and as predicted, once again retired to move into the oil business.
A successful oil businessman, Hay still stayed in hockey by becoming the President and CEO of the Calgary Flames in 1991. He held these positions until getting more involved with Hockey Canada, taking his father’s position as COO and President of Hockey Canada. In 1998, he helped spearhead the merging of Hockey Canada with the CAHA, forming the Canadian Hockey Association, now known as Hockey Canada in 1998.
Hay’s part in the Hockey Hall of Fame began in 1980 as a member of the Selection Committee, keeping that role until 1997. He would be named to the board of directors, which he worked from 1995 until his retirement in 2013. In 1998, they named him the Chairman and CEO. Hay was extremely instrumental in expanding the Hockey Hall of Fame beyond Canada and the United States, with the Hall now recognizing International hockey stars. In 2010, the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted its first female members in the player category, further expanding the Hall’s inclusiveness.
Hay might have had a great hockey career on the ice, but his contributions off the ice to Hockey Canada and the Hockey Hall of Fame will be felt and remembered through the years to come. In the 1960s, it was hard to find players that stood taller and stronger than his 6’3”, 190lb frame. Today, the 79 year-old will stand tall as a builder in the Hall he helped to build.