Wings Hall of Famer Bill Gadsby dies at 88

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Bill Gadsby

Detroit – Bill Gadsby, who retired in 1966 after five seasons with the Red Wings and a 20-year NHL career, died Thursday at age 88, the Red Wings announced.

When he retired he was the leading career scorer among defensemen with 568 points.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1970, Gadsby played for the Wings in five seasons while their legendary stars of the 1950s, Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Terry Sawchuk, Marcel Pronovost and, in a comeback year, Ted Lindsay, tried in vain to add to their total of four Stanley Cups from that decade.

Gadsby, and his wife Edna, remained in the Metro Detroit area during his long retirement.

A terrific shot-blocker and fine defender, in an era before Bobby Orr permanently altered the role of defensemen and hooked stick blades changed the nature of offense in the NHL, Gadsby was a terrific offensive defenseman.

His 130 goals, 438 assists and 568 points in 20 seasons were the professional standard, and the most garnered in a career by any NHL defenseman, as Orr first began to skate for the Bruins.

Gadsby played 1,248 games with the Blackhawks, Rangers and Red Wings.

His 1,539 penalty minutes were testament to his tenacious, tough-as-nails approach to the sport.

In 323 games with the Wings, he scored 18 goals and garnered 94 assists for 112 points, while compiling 478 minutes in penalties.

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A common publicity photograph of the era was Gadsby on his skates, in a crouch, with left hand extended palm forward and right hand extending his stick to the side, the expression on his rough-hewn face registering his preparation for an opponent’s shot. It was Gadsby’s frequently employed positioning for blocking shots in the Red Wings’ zone.

A native of Calgary, Alberta, Gadsby was a three-time first team All Star and four times on the second team.

For two seasons, 1968-70, Gadsby coached the Wings to a 35-31-12 record.