His official title with the Florida Panthers is, “Special Advisor to the GM/Alternate Governor.” But to Islanders fans, Bill Torrey will always be “The Architect,” the general manager who built the franchise from expansion crash test dummy to historic dynasty.
Today, the Hall of Famer and bow tie enthusiast took some time to answer some questions on Reddit that covered his career, his expertise in building expansion teams and some of the crazier stuff he’s seen in a lifetime in hockey. Naturally, the Islanders came up more than once (to the point where I felt a little bad for Panthers fans hoping to hear about their team), and Torrey didn’t disappoint, talking in depth about his experiences and feelings during his 20 years with the team.
Then it’s on to building an NHL team from scratch. Torrey says Long Island’s familiarity with the sport helped things a little, but he still spent a ton of time scouting the real future, aka the junior leagues.
(Big assist to his grandson for that last question. The kids these days and their Atari Nintendos!)
After building a yearly contender, it was time to seal the deal with a Stanley Cup or four. Torrey says the age of his draft picks was key to getting good and staying there.
Next is an eternal question about one of Torrey’s most important players. Mike Bossy only played in the NHL for 10 years before retiring at age 30 because of back issues. As you can imagine, the man who drafted Bossy and watched him every day feels that his already incredible accomplishments could have been even more amazing.
And finally, on the subject of Torrey’s ever-present bow ties and his thoughts on this year’s Cup final:
Put that tie in the Hall of Fame, too.
The entire Q&A is well worth your time if you’re a fan of NHL history and curious about how one of the greats went about his business. Torrey tells also tells the fun story about how he came to join founder Wayne Huizenga with the Panthers over a round of golf, how a former Bruins president got a bad university student started in management in the first place and whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich (It is not). Take 10 minutes and read it today.
But we will leave off on a non-Islanders centric note, in which Bill Torrey tells the story of Oakland Seals owner Charles O. Finley and the infamous white skates. Thank you for your time today, sir.