Tom Williams (ice hockey, born 1940)
|Men's ice hockey|
|Competitor for the United States|
|Gold||1960 Squaw Valley||Ice hockey|
Thomas Mark "Tommy, The Bomber" Williams (April 17, 1940 – February 8, 1992) was the first American ice hockey player to regularly play in the National Hockey League since the retirement of Frank Brimsek in 1950. A good skater and shooter, he received his nickname due to an incident in the early 1970s when he joked with Toronto customs officials that his bag contained a bomb (he was suspended for one game by the NHL as punishment).
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Williams was a member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team that defeated Czechoslovakia and won the Gold Medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. He scored one goal and had four assists while playing on the second line with Bill Christian and Roger Christian.
His National Hockey League career began when he joined the Boston Bruins for the 1961–62 NHL season. After eight seasons with the Bruins (and a serious injury in 1968 that almost ended his career), Williams joined the Minnesota North Stars, where he played for a season and a half until he was traded to the California Golden Seals.
After just two seasons with the Golden Seals, Williams jumped to the World Hockey Association to play for the New England Whalers. Upon his return to the NHL, Williams joined the new expansion team Washington Capitals where he led the team in scoring (22 goals, 36 assists), and was involved in the franchise's first penalty shot on December 5, 1974, against the Buffalo Sabres. Williams retired during the 1975–76 NHL season.
He and younger brother Butch Williams were the first American brothers to play in the NHL.
In 1981, Williams was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
Williams' life was marred by personal tragedies that also had a negative impact on his playing career. In November 1970 his wife died suddenly and it was never determined for certain whether her death was due to accident or suicide. Williams, normally a happy-go-lucky free spirit, become moody and fought with North Stars manager Jack Gordon who suspended him before trading him to the Seals. Tragedy struck again after he had retired from hockey, remarried and found a new career when his 23-year-old son Robert (a Boston Bruins prospect) died in 1987. Williams himself died of a heart attack on February 8, 1992, at the age of 51.