The late "Cowboy" Bill Flett was born in Vermillion, Alberta on July 21, 1943. The big (6-foot-1, 205 pound) former rodeo cowboy was not a fast skater or fancy puckhandler but had good hands and an ability to score goals when paired with a skilled playmaker.
Best known for his bushy beard and thick hair, the Cowboy was a colorful and tough character who was well-liked by his teammates and popular with the fans. Although Flett struggled with off-ice demons, those who knew him said he was a generous, gentle and caring person at heart; the type of person who would give someone the shirt off his own back.
On January 28, 1972 the Flyers acquired Ross Flett, Lonsberry, Ed Joyal and Jean Potvin from the LA Kings in exchange for Serge Bernier, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Lesuk.
Playing right wing on a line with Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber in 1972-73, Flett produced a 43-goal, 74-point campaign in 74 games. The next year, hindered by injuries and off-ice issues, he slumped to 17 goals and 44 points and was moved down in the lineup. Flett dressed in 17 playoff games (zero goals, six assists) as the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup. Flett assisted on Clarke's famous overtime goal in Game Two of the Final against Boston; one of the most iconic moments in franchise history.
The Flyers traded Flett to the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 27, 1974 in exchange for Dave Fortier and Randy Osbourne. After leaving the Flyers, Flett played for the Maple Leafs, Atlanta Flames and the Edmonton Oilers (both in the WHA and NHL). Later, he became a popular figure at NHL alumni games, sporting a cowboy hat on his head and sometimes even wearing spurs on his skates as he played.
Flett had serious health problems late in life, sustaining liver failure that ultimately took his life. Flett was sober for the final four years of his life, but the damage had already been done. Bill Flett passed away in Edmonton on July 12, 1999. He was 55 years old.