HHOF Profile: Bill Hay

130307224607-blackhawks-11-horizontal-large-galleryJoining the Hall of fame is an honour for anyone who gets that call including the man who used to make those calls.

Bill Hay served as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee starting in 1980 and in 1995 joined the board of directors, eventually serving as the chairman in 1999.

He was the man who made the call to all of the future hall of famers telling them that they were about to enter the long list of the greatest to ever play the game.

He called it the best part of his job but it was far from the most important part of his job in serving for the HHOF.

He was one of the main factors in making the hall of fame what it is today changing it from a place to go see the plaques of great players to a place to celebrate the game.

He played a major role in changing the Hockey Hall of Fame into one of Toronto’s premier tourist destinations and a place that every hockey fans wants to see at least once in their lives.

That tended to be a theme for the long career of the Saskatchewan native who made his presence felt and left a mark on the game from 1959 until 2013.

After spending time in the WCJHL with the Regina Pats, Hay was given an athletic scholarship to Colorado College where he earned plenty of accolades to garner interest from the NHL.

He joined the Chicago Blackhawks in 1959 and immediately became one of the great players on a very good team.

He wasn’t always given the recognition aside from winning the Rookie of the Year award for his 1959-60 season.

The reason being that he was the centre for one of the greatest lines in NHL history that included Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita.

Out of the three of them it was Hay who took a backseat but played a massive role in that “Million Dollar Line.”

When his playing days finished with the Blackhawks he took on the role of President and CEO of the Calgary Flames in 1991.

From there he had what is possibly his biggest impact on the game of hockey when he followed in his father’s footsteps and became the President and COO of Hockey Canada.

This is where he made massive changes to the way things were done in Canada and helped to organize Canadian hockey into the powerhouse it is today.Hay-William.HI_.P-w1000

Before Hay there were two main sections of hockey in Canada with Hockey Canada running all international teams and the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association governing hockey throughout the country.

Hay was a main figure in the merger of both of these organizations into what is now Hockey Canada, an organization that is responsible for all international teams and for creating the guidelines for hockey in Canada.

With that merger the sport in Canada changed and a new system of development began to form that started in house league up until major junior hockey.

Along with this merger Hay was instrumental in the creation of the Canadian Hockey Centre for Excellence model that brought Canada back to the top of the international game.

Hay is simply put a hockey guy, he is someone who has spent his entire life in the game looking to make it better.

After all that is essentially what a hall of famer is, someone who was involved in the game that made the game better while he/she was there.

Whether it is a player who helped his/her team to championships, an owner who brought hockey to a city, or someone like Hay who put his imprint throughout the game.

Whether he did it as a player in Chicago or an executive with the Flames, Hockey Canada, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, Hay was a hockey guy.

He helped two of the game’s greatest players reach their potential and helped Hockey Canada to become a new organization.

He also realized the potential of the Hockey Hall of Fame as more than just celebrating the men, and women, involved in the game but instead celebrating the game itself.

He is a man who has changed the game forever and long after he is gone he will always be remembered as someone who made his mark on the game.

For that he deserves a plaque alongside the many players and executives that he himself has helped to put into the ultimate honour for anyone involved in the game.

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