Bill Cook

There have been many deadly lines with equally deadly nicknames in the history of the NHL, but the Bread line surely didn’t have the deadliest sounding name of all. Bill Cook, with his brother, nicknamed “Bun”, and Frank Boucher made up the line for a deadly combo in the late 20s and early 30s. Like a number of NHL players in his era, Cook first played in the WHL/WCHL and led the league there in scoring twice. Looking to start their franchise right, the Rangers signed Cook as their first signee in 1926, when Cook was already 30 years old. He had proven himself already and was given the captaincy by the Rangers.

Cook scored the first Rangers goal in history and also proved that his seasons in the WHL/WCHL were no fluke, leading the NHL in both goals (33) and points (37) in 44 games for the 1926-27 season. Cook’s efforts almost won him the Hart trophy, as he fell just short of 35-year old Herb Gardiner in the voting. After a less impressive 1927-28 regular season, the Rangers, propelled by their star line won their first Stanley Cup in only their second NHL season.

After a 15 goal season in 44 games during the NHL’s most defense-oriented season ever, the Rangers again made it the Finals in the playoffs, but fell just short. If fans were at all concerned that Cook’s offense was dying out because of his age, as he was now at 33 years old, they were proven wrong in the explosion of the 1929-30 season. Cook, like others, exploded offensively and finished at fourth in points and tied for third in assists, with 29 goals, 30 assists, and 59 points in 44 games. Cook’s affinity for scoring goals came back in full force in the 1930-31 season when he scored 30 goals in 43 games, good for second in the entire league. At this point, it was clear that Cook wouldn’t not fall off the same way many offensive dynamos did, as he was still as dominant as ever, even in his mid 30s.

Cook tied for first in the league in goals in the 1931-32 season with 34 goals in 48 games and his Rangers made it all the way to the finals before losing the the Maple Leafs. In the 1932-33 season, Cook amazed the hockey world by leading the NHL in both goals and points at 36 years of age with 28 goals and 50 points  in 48 games. Cook still holds the record for the oldest NHL goal leader in league history. Cook again fell just short of the Hart trophy, this time to Bruins great Eddie Shore. The Rangers got revenge on the Maple Leafs and conquered them in the Stanley Cup Finals for their second Stanley Cup. Cook was also cemented in Stanley Cup history as he scored the first Cup-winning overtime goal.

After a slight regression in the 1933-34 season, Cook surprised again in the 1934-35 season by emerging with another 21 goal season, which tied him for fifth in the NHL. After two more seasons in which Cook’s offense finally died off, he retired at the ripe age of 40 years old. Despite his lower amount of games played due to starting his  NHL career at 30, Cook retired at fifth all-time in goals with 229 goals in 474 games. Cook would remain the all-time Rangers goal leader for about 25 years until Andy Bathgate finally surpassed him in 1962; and it took Bathgate about 150 more games to do so.

Cook would then have a solid coaching career, winning two championships in the AHL and another in the USHL. He was the head coach for the Rangers during two seasons in the early 50s, but didn’t see much success. Cook served as captain for his entire NHL career and to this day is the longest serving captain in Rangers history. Cook was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1952.

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