Longtime NHL executive Bill Torrey, best known for building the New York Islanders dynasty of the early 1980's, passed away on Thursday at the age of 83.
“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 joined the Islanders in their very first year in 1972 as the expansion team's general manager and alternate governor, a post he would hold for 20 years. He quickly built the Islanders into a contender, earning him the nickname "The Architect."
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He drafted the likes of Hall of Famers Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies while trading for goalie Billy Smith and forward Butch Goring, considered the missing piece of the team's championship puzzle. Torrey also hired Al Arbour, considered one of the greatest coaches in league history.
The Islanders won four-consecutive Stanely Cups from 1980-83 while setting an NHL record with 19-consecutive postseason series victories. No team has eclipsed that record since.
Torrey joined the Florida Panthers for their inaugural season in 1993 as team president and filled various roles for the club ever since.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.
"From his iconic bow tie, retired by the Islanders organization, to his devilish sense of humor, he truly was one of a kind," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "He attended as many games as he could in junior rinks, where he was 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.