Bill Nyrop emerged on the scene to play a meaningful role in the Montreal Canadiens run to three of their four Stanley Cups in the 1970s.
Recalled from Montreal’s farm team during the 1975-76 season, he arrived in time to collect his first Stanley Cup ring as the Habs took out the Philadelphia Flyers. In his first full campaign the following year, the Canadiens’ repeated against the Boston Bruins. Nyrop’s final ring came against these same Bruins in 1977-78 in a six game series. Three rings in three years!
Nyrop was born in Washington, DC, July 23, 1952 and moved to Minnesota at an early age where he developed in Edina’s elite youth hockey program.
Moving on to Coach Willard Ikola’s equally elite high school team, he played on three state tournament teams from 1968-70. The Hornets won it all in 1969 as they defeated Warroad 5-4 in the famous “Henry Boucha” game in which the Warriors’ star player was knocked out of the game.
After high school, Notre Dame coach “Lefty” Smith, recruited him to South Bend where he played four seasons for the Fighting Irish. During the 1972-73 season, Notre Dame finished second in the league standings and the Edina resident was named to the NCAA West First All-Star Team and WCHA Second All-Star squad. Over the course of his college career he scored 89 points (17g, 72a) while appearing in 132 games.
The Canadiens took Nyrop with the 66th overall pick, in the 1972 NHL Entry Draft and dispatched him to Nova Scotia to begin his pro career. After his recall to the big team and before his first full season in 1976-77, he was named to the U.S. team for the inaugural Canada Cup (later renamed the World Cup in 1996) tournament held in 1976.
Nyrop chose to retire after the 1977-78 season and former Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough, a Montreal teammate, recalled how it happened. Star Tribune, December 27, 2008: “We’re in training camp (in 1978) and I didn’t have a car, so I was going to catch a ride with him. He said, ‘No, I have to go somewhere first. I’ll meet you there.’ We waved goodbye, I get to the rink and I’m told he called Scotty [Bowman] and said he was retiring.”
However, the North Stars lured him back for the 1981-82 season.
The Notre Dame graduate later picked up a law degree and subsequently owned, managed, and coached the Sunshine Hockey League’s West Palm Beach Blaze. He died far too young on January 1, 1996 at the age of 43 and was named to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997.
1910s: Frank Winters
1920s: Frank "Moose" Goheen
1930s: Doc Romnes
1940s: Frank Brimsek
1950s: John Mayasich
1960s: Tommy Williams
1970s: Bill Nyrop
1980s: Neal Broten
1990s: Phil Housley
2000s: Jamie Langenbrunner