Right winger Billy McNeill was a decent role player for parts of six seasons with the Detroit Red Wings in the 50s and 60s. He was a reliable goal-scorer in junior and a long time success story in the WHL.
The Edmonton native was a junior star with the local Oil Kings when they dominated the WCJHL during the early 50s. McNeill was recalled to the Wings following serious injuries to Alex Delvecchio and Bill Dineen. During his first pro season in 1955-56 he scored 50 points and put forth a consistent effort. The next year he played 64 games mostly on the same line as Marty Pavelich and Johnny Bucyk. He split the 1957-58 season between Detroit and the WHL's Edmonton Flyers then took part in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the only time in his career.
Through the 1963-64 season, McNeill spent more than half of his time in the NHL as a reliable checker and occasional goal scorer. The rest of his time was spent with Edmonton where he usually averaged over a point per game. In February, 1960 he was traded to the New York Rangers with Red Kelly for Eddie Shack and Bill Gadsby. McNeill made headlines when his refusal to report killed the transaction.
By the mid-60s, McNeill's NHL days were finished. He continued his career in the WHL and became one of the top attractions in the league. The tricky forward played his best hockey for the Vancouver Canucks and was named the winner of the Leader Cup as league MVP in 1965 and 1966. He was also selected to the first all-star team both of those years. He retired in 1971 after spending a year with the WHL's San Diego Gulls.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame