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Humble Beginnings

Tommy Williams

A year after helping Team USA to an Olympic Gold Medal in Men's Hockey in 1960, Tommy "The Bomber" Williams began his NHL career with the Boston Bruins in 1961-62. At the time, Milt Schmidt was the general manager of the Bruins. More than a decade later, Schmidt added Williams to the Capitals' meagerly talented expansion roster, hoping there was still some life left in the old horse.

There was. Williams led the Caps in scoring with 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists). More importantly, the 34-year old native of Duluth, MN was a positive force in the locker room, keeping the boys loose through trying times and helping the young players learn the ropes at the NHL level.

Throughout much of the 1960s, Williams was the lone American player in the six-team NHL. Playing for the Bruins and later for the Minnesota North Stars, the swift-skating Williams was a role model to youth hockey players with NHL aspirations.
When Williams was playing for the North Stars in 1970-71, his wife passed away, leaving him a widower with five young children. He later jumped from the California Golden Seals to the fledgling WHA, a move that enabled him to be closer to his children.

Williams scored 21 goals with the WHA's New England Whalers in 1973-74. Schmidt's newly formed team was in dire need of scoring ability and veteran talent, and Williams was able to supply both. The Caps bought Williams' NHL rights from the Bruins and then lured him back to the NHL with a multi-year contract.

Midway through the 1974-75 campaign, Williams decided to retire, citing his desire to be with his children for the holidays and the Capitals' need to move forward with young players. When Williams retired, he was the all-time leading American-born NHL player in goals (161) and points (430).

 

 

 

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