Bill Cowley


  • NHL: 1934-47; 13 seasons, 11 quality[1. By modern PPG standards]
  • Totals:
    • 195G (17th All Time at his retirement),
    • 353A (1st[2. Cowley was the career leader in Assists from the 1943-44 season till the 1951-52 season]) for
    • 548P (1st[3. Cowley was the career leader in Points from the 1946-47 season to the 1950-51 season]) in
    • 549 Games (25th); 57.2 PS (20th)
  • At the time of his retirement, Cowley was 21st All Time in GPG, 1st All Time in APG[3.¬†Cowley held the career record for APG for all but four years from 1944-45 until 1966-67] and 4th in PPG[4. Minimum 300 games. If the qualifier is raised to 500 games, Cowley was 8th All Time in GPG and 1st in PPG at his retirement][5. Cowley held the career record of PPG – Among qualifying players – from 1945-46 till 1950-1951. And he held it again briefly, only for the 1952-53 season]
  • At the time of his retirement, Cowley was 13th All Time in Offensive Points Shares
  • Era: Cowley is 5th in Goals and GPG, 1st in Assists, APG, Points, PPG, and OPS, 4th in PS and 2nd in Games[6. Of the 11 players to play in at least 500 games between 1934 and 1947]
  • 82-game average: 30G, 52A for 82P
  • 3-year peak (1942-45): 48-game average of 30G, 46A for 77P
  • Playoffs: 12G, 34A[7.¬†Cowley held the career record in playoff Assists in 1943 and again from 1945 to 1946] for 46P in 46 games
  • Adjusted:
    • Hockey-Reference:
      • 252G, 555A for 807P
      • Adjusted 82-game average: 38G, 83A for 121P
      • Adjusted Per Game:
    • VsX:
  • Claimed in dispersal draft.


  • Hart (’41, ’43)
  • Top 5 in Hart voting two other times (’44, ’45)
  • Back Check MVP twice (’41, ’43)
  • Back Check Best Player (’41, ’43, ’44)
  • Top 5 Player[9. By Point Shares] once (’41), Top 10 twice (’43)
  • Best Offensive Player[10. By Offensive Point Shares] once (’41), Top 5 five times (’39, ’43, ’44, ’45), Top 10 eight times (’37, ’38, ’40)
  • Scored 30 goals once, 25 goals thrice
  • Tallied 40 assists four times[11. NHL record at his retirement]
  • Scored 70 points twice,[12. 1 of only 5 players to do so by his retirement] 60 points four times[13. NHL record at his retirement]
  • Top 5 in Goals once, Top 10 five times
  • Top 5 in GPG once, Top 10 twice
  • Set the single-season record in Assists,[14. Which he held for 3 years and he also tied his own record during that time] led the league in Assists thrice, Top 5 six times, Top 10 eight times
  • Set the single season record in APG,[15. The record held until he broke it, and his new record lasted until expansion (1969-70)] led the league in APG five times, Top 5 eight times, Top 10 ten times
  • Led the league in Points once, Top 5 six times, Top 10 eight times
  • Led the league in PPG four times, Top 5 six times, Top 10 nine times
  • 1st All Star Team four times, 2nd Team All Star once.

Great Teams

  • Best Skater[16. Set the single playoff record in assists in 1939, and he held the record until 1945, and set the single playoff record in points, which he held till 1944] on one Champion (’39 Bruins),
  • Best Skater[17. By points] on one Final Four (’38 Bruins),
  • Top 3 Forward[18. By points] on one Runner Up (’43 Bruins) and one Final Four (’45 Bruins),
  • Top 6 Forward[19. By points] one one Runner Up (’46 Bruins) and three Final Fours (’40, ’42, ’47 Bruins),
  • Injured on one Champion (’41 Bruins).

It’s easy to look at Cowley’s resume and think he was the greatest passer the NHL had ever seen and that he belongs among the ranks of the greatest players ever. However, just as Cowley arrived at his peak, the NHL began counting the secondary assists. Cowley’s assist and APG numbers are gaudy – and unprecedented – because the rules allowed them to be. On the other hand, someone had to lead the league in assists now that the rules changed, and Cowley was that player, and his APG record stood for over two decades.

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