This is Bill McCreary. He spent much of his pro career in the minors, playing in only 27 NHL games before expansion (and 772 games in the highest minor leagues from 1955-1967) and a job with the St. Louis Blues.
McCreary had one of the most interesting seasons in NHL history in 1969-70. Why? Plus Minus. No one knew it at the time (NHL Plus Minus didn’t become public domain until 1975 when a summer issue of the Hockey News hit the stands. I saved it, interesting read) but McCreary had a stunning season of ineffectiveness and or bad luck that year.
The boxcar numbers (73gp, 15-17-32, 16pims) are pretty much similar to his two previous seasons with the Blues, and he was as effective in their three runs to the SCF’s in 1968, 1969 and 1970 (total games: 43, total points: 19) as he was in the regular season.
McCreary’s plus minus in 1967-68 was +2 which is not out of place with his team, and the next year he was +4. Again a normal total.
Let’s list the plus minus numbers for the 1969-70 St. Louis Blues forwards who had more than 400 at-bats:
- Jimmy Roberts +18
- Ab McDonald +11
- Ron Anderson +11
- Tim Ecclestone +7
- Andre Boudrias +7
- Phil Goyette +3
- Red Berenson -3
- Frank St Marseille -3
- Larry Keenan -8
- Gary Sabourin -9
- Bill McCreary -43
The next player up on the list would be Terry Crisp (he was even +/-) but since he played in only 26 NHL games that season I’ll go with this 11 player group (which makes sense because they used to dress 11 forwards and 5 defensemen at this time in NHL history. Wren Blair in Minnesota was experimenting with 6 defensemen at this exact time).
A few points: This was a very good expansion team. They were on their way to their third straight final, won the West, and their goals for-against total (224-179) was the only ratio above 1/1 in their division. They were good.
The St. Louis Blues scored 45 more goals than they gave up that season, and Bill McCreary was -43. Even more stunning, he was -34 worse than any other forward on the team!
According to TOTAL HOCKEY, the Blues scored 67 powerplay goals that season. I have been unable to secure the powerplay goals against total, but did add up all the defender’s powerplay goals against totals and divided by two (one assumes that each PK would have had two defenders no matter the situation, although a guy like Jimmy Roberts played forward and defense. For the purposes of this exercise he was considered a forward) to get a total of 43 powerplay goals against for that season.
Which makes the EV GF/GA estimate for the St. Louis Blues 157-136, making the team +21 at even strength. McCreary’s season is still a wonder, and I think it’s probably a mistake. After all, what are the mathematical probabilities of this happening?
McCreary played the next season in St. Louis but was gone as the team began to rebuild with youth to begin the 70s. He got into management and was GM of the California Golden Seals for a couple of seasons and did some nice things (he drafted pretty well, high water mark being Denis Maruk).
His son, Bill McCreary Jr, was the kid who nailed Gretzky coming over the blueline and never played another NHL game (this was the 80-81 season). The conspiracy theorists who populate hockey believe McCreary was blacklisted although the statistical evidence suggests he was a fringe player.