RE: Billy Harris Question COMPLETE VERSION
- Sorry this is the complete verison...
First of al no one gave a damn about how you felt about "violence in hockey"
if you won. This is a results oriented business, if you succeed you can more
or less say anything hat you want as long as you are not totally stupid like
advocating child molestation or calling your owner a boob.He was a decent
coach but he had never WON a title. And in the end it seems like he left
with a squabble with management. They wanted him to resign and he instead
took a "leave of absence".That NEVER bodes well for a coach doubly so in
that era.salary bickering is one thing it is another to defy.
Add on he was not a classic coach. He had not coached in junior outside of a
short stint in Hamilton nor had he coached minor pro. Add on he was a WHA
coach with no NHL coaching EXPERIENCE. Hiring a Johnny Wilson was one thing,
he had been in the NHL system first..Bobby Kromm had won titles..he had done
neither. He had gone an unorthodox route that NHL folks did not trust. Guys
were still not so sure about the international game...like most things it
was a process. Though eh had been an NHL player he was not seen as one of
their own.he was different. He gotten to photography,. Most NHL coaches of
the 70's didn't get that unless the target was a buxom blonde. :-) He was a
players coach in an era where that was just starting to come into vogue.
Ironically the guy that made that happen more than anyone was Shero and it
took two over achieving Cups to do that!. Anmd remember it took Freddie a
LONG time to get that chance..and a lot of winning at the minor pro level to
the po9in t that they had no choice but to give him a shot.
And in the end he may have been best as assistant..when you look at his
In 71-2 he coached in Hamilton form mdi season on, and while hr did good job
the tream finished 7th.
1972 Olymoics....4th palce and lost to the hated Finns in THE key game for a
mefdal...thought tied the Soviets. 2-2-1 inthe medal round.
1974...maybe his best coaching 1-4-3
WHA 99-89-9....playiffs 13-14 lsong to the 4th palce Cougars in the Diviosn
final was not a good step in 74..
1976 Canada Cup he coahed Swende and theyw erre seena s adiusspaoitjning
club....4th place tying the second rate "exepritmental" team the Soviets
sent pver poltical isues,,.losing to the Finns who were seen as "thee to
make numbers" ....and white washed by Canada 4-0....they only played all
that well agianst the US who were also a bthe butt of jokes (but hey they
tied gthe Czechs and clobbered the Finns who were lanced by ebveryone BUT
the Swedes) and the Czechs who the boys in red white and blue had
tied...With the Svoiets sending a depleted squad this was a moment for
Sweden to do well...but they flopped. 2-2-1
Sudbury OHL..92-3 took over in mid eyar...the team only won 15 games all
year and he didnt get through the next year as trhe team was on its way to
19 wins all year....
As an assistent hew as not there in Edmonton's big years..
In the end he hovered aaround .500 at best..
He would have been seen ina better light today wheer the road to the NHL has
its odd turns look at Kruger rin Edmonton. Coaches are more ceerbral as a
rule. But in the end i am not sos ure trhat by temprament Harris awas not
oen fo thsie technical x's and o's guys who was a PERFECT asssitant. And
there is nothing wriong with that! Soem fguys just ahev thata s their
fortye. Look at Bsarry Smith,a GREATR assisten for teh r/Ed wings who was
just vnever seen as an ideal herad coach. He is another one of those very
smart guys and Craig those guys are also uasly LIOVED by the
players....that is nOT always the case with the head coach...I know alot of
ex Habs who did not love Scotty Bowman but appreciated what eh did....as one
said "he could be a pain but iat the end of the eyar we would always coem up
adn say "thank you Scotty"" Satehr was not lvoed, Green and Muckler were
better liked.. I know guys who played for Keenan and ogthers whos ay the
same stuff...I know guys who have not cut it as NHL coaches but are maybe
just "too nice". I remmber lalking to :Pat Bruns and my first
imnpression..."tough but fair". Even Freddie Shero had a key as to how he
could get away with being a "good guy"...Bobby Clarke who would be the SOB
if you dogged it. I'm not so sure that Harris did not fit that pattern of
lacking the SOB streak that pro coaches need to have and know how to use....
From: CRAIG WALLACE [mailto:craigw@...]
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2012 7:54 AM
To: Mike Franzese
Cc: 'R Bendell'; William Underwood; email@example.com
Subject: Billy Harris Question
Question regarding Billy Harris (I mean the Billy Harris who played in the
NHL in the 1960's, played for the "Nats" in the 1969 WC's, and coached
Sweden in the 1971 WC's and 1972 Olympics, coached Ottawa and Toronto in the
WHA from 1972-73-1974-75 and finally coached Team Canada 74 in the 1974
The Toronto Toros fired him partway through the 1974-75 season and he then,
except for a one year stint as assistant coach in Edmonton in 1982-83 (I
believe that was the year) dropped off the radar screen.
What happened to him? In the early 70's he was considered one of the best,
young coaches in the game. Rick Smith and Brad Selwood both played for him
in the 1974 Summit Series and they told me he was an exceptional coach. They
both indicated that he was a "true gentleman" who possessed a sense of
"unbending principle and integrity." They also said he was a great coach
behind the bench. He ran interesting and creative practises and reacted
calmly and appropriately to actions on the ice.
My thoughts are because he abhorred violence in hockey, that he was
considered "persona non-grata" by the powers that be in the NHL and WHA and
junior hockey. Am I wrong here? Or did Harris simply decide that with
violence so prevalent in hockey in the 70's that he wanted nothing to do
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- Apologies on the typos.I have hand issues and was in fast hurry and didn't
run spell check.
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