Billy Coutu
Position Defenceman
Shoots Left
5 ft 11 in (1.8 m)
190 lb (86 kg)
Nationality Canadian
Born March 1, 1892,
North Bay, Ontario
Died February 28, 1978 (age 85),
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Pro Career 1916 – 1933

Wilfrid "Billy" Arthur Coutu (March 1, 1892 - February 28, 1978) was born Wilfrid Arthur Coutu. Coutu was a professional Canadian defenceman who played 10 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Montreal Canadiens, the Hamilton Tigers, and the Boston Bruins. He was the first, and so far only player banned from the NHL for life, as a result of his attack on a referee in 1927.

A former captain of the Montreal Canadiens (1925–26), Coutu also played for the Boston Bruins and Hamilton Tigers and coached the Providence Reds. His name appears on the 1923–24 Stanley Cup ring.

Personal LifeEdit

Billy Coutu's last name is sometimes incorrectly spelled "Couture", an error which appears in many NHL history books. He and his family pronounced their name "Koochee", which was sometimes confused with "Couture".

Ms. Aird Stuart, the sister of Coutu's wife, Gertrude Aird, was the mother of Mary Morenz and grandmother of Marlene Geoffrion, daughter of Howie Morenz and widow of Bernie Geoffrion. Howie Morenz played with Coutu on the Canadiens.

Playing CareerEdit

Coutu turned professional with the Canadiens in 1916–17, the last season of the NHA. He stayed with the Canadiens when the new NHL formed for 1917–18. During the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1919, Coutu and four other teammates contracted influenza and were hospitalized. The 1919 Stanley Cup series was cancelled.

After playing the 1920–21 NHL season with the Hamilton Tigers, Coutu was traded back to Montreal prior to the start of the 1921–22 NHL season, along with Sprague Cleghorn, in exchange for Harry Mummery, Amos Arbour, and Cully Wilson, in the NHL's first multiple-player trade.

After the 1925–26 NHL season, Coutu was traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Amby Moran. During his first practice with the Bruins, Coutu body-slammed Eddie Shore. Coutu's forehead hit Shore's skull, severing Shore's ear. Shore visited several doctors who wanted to amputate the ear, but finally found one who sewed it back on. After refusing anaesthetic, Shore used a mirror to watch the doctor sew the ear back on. Shore claimed Coutu used his hockey stick to cut off the ear, and Coutu was fined $50. However, Shore later recanted and Coutu's money was refunded.

In Game 4 of the 1927 Stanley Cup, Coutu started a brawl, apparently at the request of coach Art Ross, by punching referee Jerry LaFlamme. As a result, he was expelled from the NHL for life; as of 2009, this punishment has not been used again. On October 8, 1929, the suspension was lifted so that Coutu could play in the minor leagues. He never played in the NHL again, although he was reinstated in 1932–33 at the insistence of Leo Dandurand.

Career statistics Edit

  • Total games played: 240
  • Total goals: 33
  • Total assists: 18
  • Total points: 51
  • Total penalty minutes: 380
  • Total won the Stanley Cup in 1924 with Montreal Canadiens

Source: Hockey Database

Team history


  • November 24, 1916 - Signed as a free agent by Montreal Canadiens (NHA) -
  • November 26, 1917 - Rights retained by Montreal Canadiens after NHA folded.
  • November 27, 1920 - Loaned to Hamilton Tigers by Montreal Canadiens as part of trade of Jack McDonald, Harry Mummery and Dave Ritchie to Hamilton for Jack Coughlin, Samuel (Goldie) Prodgers and Joe Matte.
  • January 26, 1921 - Returned to Montreal Canadiens from loan to Hamilton Tigers.
  • November 15, 1921 - Fined $200 and suspended by Montreal Canadiens for rough play.
  • March 8, 1923 - Missed seven games due to a broken wrist suffered in a game vs. Toronto St. Patricks.
  • January 21, 1925 - Suspended two games and fined $100 by NHL for misconduct.
  • January 19, 1926 - Suspended one game and fined $100 by NHL for tripping referee Jerry Laflamme vs Ottawa Senators.
  • October 22, 1926 - Traded to Boston Bruins by Montreal Canadiens for Amby Moran
  • April 13, 1927 - Suspended for life from the NHL for striking referee Jerry Laflamme after a playoff game.
  • January 5, 1928 - Traded to New Haven (Can-Am) by Boston with Pat '(Nobby) Clark for cash.
  • January 28, 1928 - Suspended for the season by Can-Am for hitting George Redding of Boston with his stick in January 23, 1928 game.
  • January 29, 1928 - Suspension lifted by Can-Am and changed to a $200 fine.
  • August 19, 1928 - Traded to Minneapolis (AHA) by New Haven (Can-Am) for cash.
  • November 8, 1928 - Released by Minneapolis (AHA).
  • October 8, 1929 - Lifetime suspension from NHL lifted.
  • October 2, 1934 - Named manager of Providence (Can-Am)
  • March 24, 1935 - Ejected from Can-Am game due to abuse of referee Jack Cameron

External LinksEdit

Preceded by
Sprague Cleghorn
Montreal Canadiens captains
Succeeded by
Sylvio Mantha
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