Bill Cowley

Bill Cowley
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1968
Born (1912-06-12)June 12, 1912
Bristol, Quebec, Canada
Died December 31, 1993(1993-12-31) (aged 81)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg; 11 st 11 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Played for Boston Bruins
St. Louis Eagles
Playing career 19341947

William Mailes "Cowboy" Cowley (June 12, 1912 – December 31, 1993) was a Canadian professional ice hockey centre who played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League for the St. Louis Eagles and Boston Bruins.

Playing career

After a few seasons of senior league play in Ottawa and Halifax, Cowley broke in as a rookie with the St. Louis Eagles in 1934–35. After the season, the franchise was terminated and Art Ross, the general manager of the Bruins, selected him in the subsequent dispersal draft.

In Boston he would become a star, leading the league in assists in 1939 (despite missing twelve games with injuries), 1941 and 1943, and helping to lead the Bruins to two Stanley Cups in 1939 and 1941. While World War II ravaged the Bruins' powerful roster thereafter—Boston would not win another Cup during his career—Cowley was the team's sole remaining star. Frequently injured, he was on track to shatter the league record for scoring in 1944 when another injury ended his season two points short.

Cowley finished his career with 195 goals and 353 assists for 548 points in 549 NHL games. On April 5, 1947, at the Bruins annual breakup party, Cowley unexpectedly announced he was leaving hockey because general manager Art Ross had chose to leave him off of the roster for a post-season exhibition tour of western Canada and the United States. Cowley's wife was from Vancouver and he wanted to use the trip as a honeymoon.[1] At the time of his retirement, he was the NHL's all-time leading point scorer, and the last active player from the St. Louis Eagles roster.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1968, as the sole inductee into the Players category that year. In 1998, he was ranked number 53 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

After his career, Cowley went on to coach in the Ottawa senior leagues and the Vancouver Canucks of the PCHL.


Returning to Ottawa after his coaching days, Cowley went into business, owning a hotel in Smiths Falls, Ontario and the Elmdale Tavern/Hotel in Ottawa. In 1967, he was a part-owner and founder of the Ottawa 67's junior ice hockey team. He passed on the Elmdale to his son John.[2]

Cowley died on New Year's Eve, 1993 of a heart attack. He was survived by his wife Jessie (née Wilson), children Jill Fullerton, John, Jane Egan and Dan.[3] He is buried in the hamlet of Norway Bay, Quebec, just south-east of his birthplace of Bristol, where he had a home and spent much of his retirement years.[2]

Awards and achievements

  • Named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1938, 1941, 1943 and 1944.
  • Named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1945.
  • Won the NHL scoring title in 1941.
  • The only member of the Hall of Fame to begin his career with the St. Louis Eagles.
  • Upon his retirement, Cowley was the last active player that had played for the Senators/Eagles franchise.
  • The only NHL players who have scored more points per game in a season than Cowley's 1.97 in 1944 are Joe Malone, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
  • Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1968.
  • Inducted into Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.

Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1934–35Tulsa OilersAHA10005
1934–35St. Louis EaglesNHL41571210
1935–36Boston BruinsNHL481110211722132
1936–37Boston BruinsNHL46132235430330
1937–38Boston BruinsNHL48172239832020
1938–39Boston BruinsNHL3483442212311142
1939–40Boston BruinsNHL481327402460117
1940–41Boston BruinsNHL461745621620000
1941–42Boston BruinsNHL2842327650335
1942–43Boston BruinsNHL482745721091784
1943–44Boston BruinsNHL3630417112
1944–45Boston BruinsNHL492540651273360
1945–46Boston BruinsNHL261212246101342
1946–47Boston BruinsNHL511325381650220
NHL totals 549 195 353 548 143 64 12 34 46 22


  1. Ralby, Herb (April 6, 1947). "Ross Leaves Cowley Off Bruin Trip List; Draws Center's Ire". The Boston Daily Globe.
  2. 1 2 Ferguson, Bob (January 2, 1994). "Ex-Bruin Cowley dies at age 81". Ottawa Citizen. p. B1.
  3. "Hall of Famer Cowley Dies of Heart Attack". Toronto Star. January 3, 1994. p. E02.
Preceded by
Tommy Anderson
Winner of the Hart Trophy
Succeeded by
Babe Pratt
Preceded by
Ebbie Goodfellow
Winner of the Hart Trophy
Succeeded by
Tommy Anderson
Preceded by
Milt Schmidt
NHL Scoring Champion
Succeeded by
Bryan Hextall
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