The New Jersey Devils’ first-ever head coach, Bill MacMillan, passed away on Saturday. The former NHL coach and player was 80 years old.
MacMillan was born and raised in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He played in 446 NHL games for three teams suiting up for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Atlanta Flames, and New York Islanders. MacMillan also played for Team Canada at the Ice Hockey World Championships in 1966 and 1967. He then suited up for Team Canada at the Olympics in 1968.
After he was unable to make an NHL roster, MacMillan attempted to continue his hockey career with the Fort Worth Texans of the Central Hockey League. He scored five goals and 18 points in the final year of his playing career with the Texans.
MacMillan scored 74 goals and 77 assists for 151 points in the NHL before retiring. He went on to pursue a career in coaching.
His first coaching stint came alongside the legendary Islanders head coach, Al Arbour, in the 1979-80 season. MacMillan helped the Islanders lift their first Stanley Cup in that same season. The following season, MacMillan was hired by the Colorado Rockies in a dual position as the organization’s general manager and head coach.
However, the Rockies were then relocated to become the Devils you know today. MacMillan was then hired as the Devils’ first head coach in franchise history in 1982.
“Billy MacMillan was the first ever Head Coach in Devils history,” the Devils published via Twitter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family at this time.”
MacMillan coached a season and a quarter before he was relieved of his duties in the 1983-84 season. As the Devils’ bench boss, MacMillan accrued a 19-67-14 record. The Devils finished in fifth place in 1982-83 and 1983-84, missing the playoffs in both seasons.
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