St. Lawrence

Legend of Appleton Bill Torrey '57 Passes Away at 83

Legend of Appleton Bill Torrey '57 Passes Away at 83

William "Bill" Torrey '57, former St. Lawrence men's hockey player, revered National Hockey League general manager, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and Legend of Appleton passed away on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at the age of 83.

Bill was named one of two inaugural Legends of Appleton last fall, joining former teammate Brian McFarlane '55, as the two returned to campus with their families for a celebration on October 21, 2017 that ended with an on-ice presentation during a men's hockey game.

Bill played on St. Lawrence hockey teams in 1954-55 and 1955-56 – years in which the "Larries," as they were called, were among the dominant squads in Eastern US College Hockey.

Following graduation, Bill and his family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he became involved in management with the Hornets of the American Hockey League. His judgment and administrative talent soon took him to the position of assistant director of hockey operations and then vice president of an NHL expansion franchise, the Oakland Seals, later the California Golden Seals. In this role, he was key in building the fledgling franchise into genuine playoff contenders.

In 1972, Bill was hired as General Manager, and soon vice president of the newly minted NHL New York Islanders with the task of building a competitive team virtually from scratch. While early successes were predictably few, lowly finishes provided prime draft-pick opportunities; Bill's patient, astute choices gradually jelled into a formidable ensemble, and the Islanders became one of the dominant teams of the late '70s. In 1980, the Isles won the first of four consecutive Stanley Cup championships, and are remembered today as one of the NHL's great dynasties, with 14 consecutive winning seasons from 1975 to 1988. Bill was promoted to team president in 1979, and in 1989, to chairman of the board.

In 1993, Bill was named president of the Florida Panthers, an expansion team based in the Miami area. Once again, he built a contender with astute draft choices, and in three years, the Panthers were Stanley Cup finalists. He retired from active management in 2001.

In Islander territory today, Bill is revered and known as "The Architect." In Florida, a banner hangs from the arena rafters with his name and the number "93" for the year he became affiliated with the franchise. Around the NHL, he is remembered for his bow ties, a preference inherited from his father, but even more as one of the league's greatest executives. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1995.

The Torreys are a devoted St. Lawrence family and generous benefactors of the university; his parents: Arthur Starratt and Josephine Leonard Torrey were members of the Class of 1924. His siblings: Barbara, David, and Jane, and many of their children, are also Laurentians.