Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Bill Riley
Bill Riley's parents were strong believers in the use of sports as a creative outlet for their children. Mother Riley worked as a cleaning woman while father pulled in the minimum wage of $1.25 per hour. But in spite of their limitations, they made the necessary sacrifices to outfit their son, Bill, with the necessary skates and pads to play hockey.

Young Riley stuck with the game in spite of the absence of many black role models in the sport. As such, he held no aspirations of pursuing hockey as a big-league career. His course, however, underwent a dramatic change in 1973 while working in a factory and playing senior hockey with the Kimat Seniors in British Columbia. Future NHL coach Tom McVie was in the process of fortifying his lineup for the Dayton Gems of the IHL. He discovered Riley in Kitmat and invited him for a tryout. Riley accepted and made the club in 1974.

In the IHL, Riley established a reputation as a combative winger who could fight and effectively muck in the corners to set up his line mates. In 1976, McVie was appointed head coach of the Washington Capitals. With intimate knowledge of Riley's abilities, he brought him along to add intelligent toughness to his lineup. The plan worked for two seasons as he scored points and fought battles.

But when the Winnipeg Jets entered the NHL in 1979, they claimed Riley in the Expansion Draft. He failed to catch on with the club, however, and was sent down to the minors after only 14 games. Riley's frustrating experience with the Jets convinced him that coaching would be a stronger long-term career option. His dilemma, however, was rooted in the experiences of the first black professional players, Herb Carnegie and Willie O'Ree. Would there be any openings in the world of hockey for a black coach?

Riley bided his time in the AHL with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Moncton. While winding his playing career down he began to study to coaching side of the game, assisting with practices and instructing younger players. Riley's wait required a lot of patience, but finally, in 1989-90, he landed a head coaching position with the Amherst Ramblers of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League.


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1968-69 Amherst Ramblers MJrHL 48 32 32 64
1969-70 Amherst Ramblers MJrHL 30 34 28 62 1 0 0 0 0
1970-71 Amherst Square M's MJrHL
1971-72 Kitimat Eagles BCSHL
1972-73 Kitimat Eagles BCSHL 40 56 32 88
1973-74 Kitimat Eagles BCSHL 40 76 42 118
1974-75 Washington Capitals NHL 1 0 0 0 0 -1
1974-75 Dayton Gems IHL 63 12 16 28 279 14 5 0 5 29
1975-76 Dayton Gems IHL 69 35 31 66 301 15 6 10 16 54
1976-77 Washington Capitals NHL 43 13 14 27 124 +4
1976-77 Dayton Gems IHL 30 19 15 34 69
1977-78 Washington Capitals NHL 57 13 12 25 125 -15
1978-79 Washington Capitals NHL 24 2 2 4 64 -6
1978-79 Hershey Bears AHL 51 15 15 30 118 4 1 0 1 8
1979-80 Winnipeg Jets NHL 14 3 2 5 7 0
1979-80 Nova Scotia Voyageurs AHL 63 31 33 64 157 4 0 0 0 2
1980-81 New Brunswick Hawks AHL 46 12 25 37 107 12 3 3 6 49
1981-82 New Brunswick Hawks AHL 80 32 30 62 104 15 8 8 16 6
1982-83 Moncton Alpines AHL 73 33 30 63 134
1983-84 Nova Scotia Voyageurs AHL 78 24 24 48 79 12 2 5 7 8
1984-85 Moncton Jr. Midland Hawks MJrHL
1985-86 Moncton Junction Club MCIHL
1986-87 St. John's Capitals Nfld-Sr. 44 29 33 62
1987-88 St. John's Capitals Nfld-Sr. 37 39 63 102 43
1988-89 St. John's Capitals Nfld-Sr. 29 25 36 61
1989-90 Amherst Ramblers MJrHL
NHL Totals 139 31 30 61 320


Signed as a free agent by Washington to a five-game tryout contract, December 20, 1974. Signed as a free agent by Washington, January 19, 1977. Claimed by Winnipeg from Washington in Expansion Draft, June 3, 1979. Signed as a free agent by Toronto, February 25, 1981.