NEW YORK (May 3, 2018) – National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman today released the following statement regarding the passing of William A. Torrey:
“William A. Torrey passed away at his home in Florida last evening. The National Hockey League mourns the passing of a true legend of our game, the incomparable Bill Torrey.
“Bill was the first employee, general manager and architect of one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history – the New York Islanders, winners of four straight Stanley Cups. He was the first president of the Florida Panthers and built the organization into one of the most successful expansion franchises in League history – the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup Final in just their third season of existence. And his imprint is on virtually every team in our League, as he personally mentored and inspired generations of NHL general managers who have followed him and established the team-building blueprint based upon scouting, drafting and player development that today remains the model for lasting success.
“It is no wonder that he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and was the recipient of a Lester Patrick Award.
“From his iconic bow tie, retired by the Islanders organization, to his devilish sense of humor, he truly was one of a kind. He grew up in close proximity to NHL greatness, near the Montreal Forum, where his passion for the game at all levels developed at an early age. He attended as many games as he could in junior rinks, where he was as at home as at an NHL Board of Governors meeting – and his counsel was sought out at both.
“On a personal level, Bill was a close and cherished friend and a great source of counsel. I will miss his wit, wisdom and warmth.
“We send our condolences to Bill’s four sons, William, Richard, Peter and Arthur; to his brother, David, and sister, Jane; and to his 10 grandchildren. And we have no doubt that Bill’s passing also is being mourned by the countless executives, coaches and players whom he inspired, guided and personally developed; and the millions of fans who were thrilled by the teams he built.”
added 1:57pm, via the New York Islanders,
The New York Islanders are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of legendary General Manager William A. Torrey.
"Bill set the model for how to build a franchise with the leadership he instilled through his coaching staff, his innovative drafting methods and the trades he executed," Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said. "He was a pioneer, who became a mentor and even better friend, to so many in the industry. The teams he constructed set records that may never be broken, including the four straight Stanley Cup Championships and 19 straight playoff series wins. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to Bill's family."
Torrey was the Islanders General Manager and Alternate Governor for 20 years, starting in 1972, the franchise's first season in the National Hockey League. He also served as the Islanders President (1980-89) and Chairman of the Board (1989-92) during his tenure with the club.
Torrey built one of the greatest dynasties the NHL has ever known. The Islanders won four straight Stanley Cup Championships from 1980-1983. Surrounding that historic stretch, Torrey's club put together 19 straight playoff series victories, which still stands as the longest such streak in professional sports.
"The Architect," as Torrey was affectionately known, selected future Hall of Fame goalie Billy Smith in the team's original expansion draft and drafted five Hall of Fame players-Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Pat LaFontaine-in the NHL Entry Draft. Torrey hired Al Arbour - another Hall of Fame member - as Head Coach.
At the start of the 1992-93 season, Torrey stepped down from his position as chairman, passed his role as General Manager to Don Maloney, and remained with the Islanders as a consultant before joining the Florida Panthers as Team President for their inaugural season in 1993-94 and has served the franchise in various capacities ever since.
A business and psychology graduate of St. Lawrence University, "Bowtie Bill Torrey" received the NHL's Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to the hockey community in 1983 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.
Torrey was born on June 23, 1934 in Montreal, Que. He is survived by his four sons, William, Richard, Peter and Arthur; his brother, David, his sister, Jane, and his 10 grandchildren.
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