Memorable Manitobans: William Byrns Robinson (1921-2008)
Athlete, coach, sports executive.
Born at Cartwright on 31 August 1921, he began playing hockey at the age of 12. A year later, he played on the teams formed by the late Father Levesque, travelling through Europe. The teams were named after the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. He was an outstanding centreman and played Junior Hockey with the Winnipeg Rangers and played on the 1941 Memorial Cup team. After winning the Memorial Cup, he joined the Navy and played alongside Billy Mosienko with the Quebec Aces. He also won two Allan Cups with the Quebec Aces and another with the Ottawa Senators. He subsequently went to England and played for the Harringay Racers in London.
He then returned to Winnipeg and played with and coached the Winnipeg Maroons. He also coached the Winnipeg Warriors in 1960 to 1961. From 1957 to 1970, he coached the University of Manitoba Bisons, which team, in 1965, won the Canadian Collegiate Championship. In 1972 he became the Director of Player Personnel of the original Winnipeg Jets hockey team. He was directly involved in the negotiations and signing of all hockey players during the formative years of the World Hockey Association, including such greats as Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, who, together with Bobby Hull, formed the Million Dollar Line. He later sought out and signed the late Lars-Erik Sjoberg, an all-star defenceman from the Swedish National team, who was later known as The Little General. He remained with the Jets until his retirement. He was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
He died of cancer at Winnipeg on 25 June 2008.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 2 July 2008.
“Manitobans’ Legacy a Better Province,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 January 2009, page B2.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 17 November 2014
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