Nov. 29, 2001
Notre Dame, Ind. – Former Notre Dame hockey defenseman Bill Nyrop was among the first 10 players selected to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s (WCHA) 50th anniversary promotion known as the Top 50 Players in 50 Years. WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod announced the names of the first 10 players today.
The Top 50 Players in 50 Years honorees were selected from a list of more than 160 players who have played in the WCHA during the league’s 50 seasons. The players were nominated during the summer by current and past member schools and selected by a committee appointed by the league commissioner. Notre Dame was a member of the WCHA from 1971-72 through 1980-81 before moving to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for the 1981-82 season.
Nyrop, a defenseman from Edina, Minn., played at Notre Dame from 1970-74 and was a first team All-American during the 1972-73 season as he helped the Irish to a second-place finish, their best season in the WCHA (23-14-1 overall and 19-9-0 in league play). He was also selected second team All-WCHA for that year.
During his career, Nyrop played in 132 games and ranks eighth on the Irish scoring list for defensemen after scoring 17 goals with 72 assists for 89 points.
Notre Dame’s rookie of the year in 1970-71, Nyrop was a fourth round selection (66th overall) of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1972 NHL Entry Draft. During his pro career with Montreal and Minnesota, Nyrop played in 207 NHL games with 12 goals and 51 assists for 63 points and was a member of three Stanley Cup championship teams with the Canadiens (1976, 1977 and 1978).
Nyrop was a member of the 1976 and 1981 United States’ Canada Cup teams and was also selected to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. He died on Dec., 31, 1995 at the age of 43.
“Bill is very deserving of this honor. He may have been one of the best all-around athletes and one of the best defensemen we’ve ever had here at Notre Dame,” said Charles “Lefty” Smith, Nyrop’s hockey coach at Notre Dame and the current director of Notre Dame’s Loftus Center.
“He was a great physical specimen. He was big and strong. He could skate and had unbelievable hand-eye coordination. Bill loved challenges. He went out for football as a sophomore and made the team as a backup quarterback before he was injured. He retired from the National Hockey League when he could still play and went to law school. I can’t say enough good things about Bill Nyrop.”
Joining Nyrop among the first 10 players chosen were forward Lou Angotti (Michigan Tech, 1959-62), forward Scott Beattie (Northern Michigan, 1989-92), forward Greg Johnson (North Dakota, 1989-93), defenseman Keith Magnuson (University of Denver, 1967-69), forward John Matchefts (Michigan, 1951-53), defenseman Craig Norwich (Wisconsin, 1974-77), forward Doug Palazarri (Colorado College, 1970-74), forward Mark Pavelich (Minnesota-Duluth, 1976-79) and goaltender Robb Stauber (Minnesota, 1986-89).
The WCHA will announce 10 more players in each of the succeeding months of December, January, February and March.