Condolences go out to the friends and family of Larry Hillman, who passed away on June 3, 2022, at the age of 85. Before the Watsons, the Sutter twins, the Schenns, the Timonens or the Cates brothers, defensemen Larry and Wayne Hillman were the first brother duo to play for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Hillman was born on February 5, 1937 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Both he and his late younger brother, Wayne, played for the Flyers in the late 1960s to early 1970s.
Larry Hillman was one of the most well-traveled players in professional hockey history. Over the course of 22 seasons, he played for 15 different teams. In the NHL, he made stops with the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota North Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres.
“Larry Hillman was an old-school fixture. He was a winner on the ice, and very well-respected around the game. I was sorry to learn about his passing,” said Brad Marsh, the president of the Flyers Alumni Association and the Flyers director of community development.
Apart from being among the most well-traveled players in hockey history, Larry Hillman was also part of a staggering number of championship-winning teams. He was a member of six Stanley Cup championship squads with three different teams: Detroit Red Wings (1954-55), Toronto Maple Leafs (1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1966-67) and Montreal Canadiens (1968-69).
Hillman holds the distinction of being the youngest person in NHL history to have his name on the Stanley Cup. Current day minimum age rules for eligibility to play in the league make Hillman’s record set with the 1954-55 Red Wings one that cannot be broken. He was 18 years, two months and nine days old when Detroit won the Stanley Cup.
In the American Hockey League, Hillman won the Calder Cup with the Rochester Americans (1964-65) and in the World Hockey Association, he won the Avco Cup with the Winnipeg Jets as a player in 1975-76 and as a first-year head coach in 1977-78.
The Flyers acquired Larry Hillman from the Canadiens via the waiver draft before the 1969-70 season. The more offensive-minded of the Hillman brothers, Larry led all Flyers defensemen in scoring with 31 points (five goals, 26 assists) in 76 regular season games and posted a pair of assists in four playoff matches.
“Larry was a good player and good teammate. He came ready to play and never made excuses. Off the ice, a nice guy and a family man. I know it was special for Larry to get to play with Wayne in Philadelphia. Our team wasn’t ready to win yet but both Larry and Wayne were solid pros,” said Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Joe Watson, who was a teammate of the Hillmans and later won two Stanley Cups playing alongside younger brother and fellow Flyers Hall of Fame inductee Jim Watson.
Following the 1970-71 season, the Flyers traded the 34-year-old defenseman Hillman to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward help, as they acquired the late Larry Mickey. Younger brother Wayne spent four seasons with the Flyers (1969-70 and 1972-73). The Hillman brothers were teammates in Wayne’s first two years with Philadelphia.
After a 791-game NHL playing career and several seasons in the World Hockey Association, Larry Hillman retired and went into coaching. He was the head coach of the original Winnipeg Jets when the team won the WHA championship (the Avco Cup) in 1977-78.
Cancer claimed Wayne Hillman’s life at age 52 on November 24, 1990. Larry survived him by 31-plus years. Their nephew, Brian Savage, played for the Flyers during the 2005-06 season.