It was with a heavy heart that Islanders fans worldwide accepted the news that “The Architect” Bill Torrey had passed away yesterday at the age of 83. For fans across the NHL and new fans of the Islanders that might not be familiar with the story of Torrey, he was an incredible individual. This is as much due to his ability to put together winning teams as it is his desire to help others achieve success. He will be missed by fans throughout the world.
Newsday, 2/16/1972 the day after Torrey was introduced as Islanders GM. Legend. pic.twitter.com/6j7I4ZOvg5
— Kevin Schultz (@Schultz88) May 3, 2018
The Islanders employee number one will forever be Bill Torrey. He was the first hire for the expansion Islanders in 1972 to put together the team and shape the new franchise. As a GM he was the first to say, that his first year was a disaster. He made mistakes, took note of them and moved on. This ability to learn from his missteps would later serve him well. He and coach Al Arbour worked for years to draft, trade, and scout to create the Islanders dynasty. The teams that the two put together included NHL legends and Hall of Famers, Mike Bossy, Clarke Gillies, Pat LaFontaine, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith and Brian Trottier. Torrey’s reverence for those players and his sense of humor was on display in this tweet, showing his pie chart of greatness that the rest of us should measure ourselves against.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 4, 2018
Those teams strung together 19 straight playoff victories, the longest streak in North American professional sports and winning four straight Stanley Cup Finals between 1980 and 1983. His tenure as GM ran from 1972 – 1992. He also served as Chairman and President of the organization in the late eighties and early nineties.
His successes as a GM of the Islanders was great and he shared that willingly with other GMs in the NHL and this did not go unnoticed. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had this to say about 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 continued his statement. 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.”
Torrey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995 and served on the induction committee. He also received the Lester Patrick award as a GM.
It is not hyperbole to say that the NHL and most certainly the Islanders will never see his equal. Rest in peace Bill. We Islanders fans all assume that you are putting together a hell of a team in the afterlife.