Tommy Williams played parts of nine seasons in the National Hockey League, mostly with the Los Angeles Kings, in the 1970s. He once scored a natural hat trick in one period of an NHL playoff game.
Williams was born in Windsor on February 7, 1951.
He first tasted organized hockey in 1960, at the age of nine, when he registered with Windsor Minor Hockey’s George Avenue Park Peewee team. Williams and his teammates played outdoors at the Optimist Park rink on Ypres Boulevard. Later, in 1963, he moved up to Bantam at the outdoor Lanspeary Park rink. During that season, he was selected to play on a travel team organized by Jimmy Hogan of Club 240. The club entered several area tournaments, exposing Williams to hockey outside of Windsor for the first time. From 1965 to ’67, he played in the Juvenile House League for Windsor Police, under coach Don Wiley.
Williams attended Herman Collegiate for Grades 9 and 10 before moving to the Goderich area, where he attended Goderich High School in Grade 11. Williams moved once more and attended Hamilton Central High School for Grades 12 and 13. At Herman, Williams skated alongside future NHL player Rick Kehoe.
After three seasons with the Hamilton Red Wings in the OHA, Williams was selected in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft by the New York Rangers. He was the team’s third pick, and the 27th played drafted overall. He shared a draft class with memorable names like Guy LaFleur, Marcel Dionne, Rick Martin, and Larry Robinson.
Williams was a member of the Rangers organization, spending time with the Omaha Knights in the CHL and the Providence Reds in the AHL, from 1971 until early in the 1973-74 season. He was traded to the Kings on November 30, 1973.
Williams played regularly for the Kings through the 1978-79 season, save for a seven-game spell with the AHL’s Springfield Indians in 1977-78. His best season came during that span, in 1976-77, when he contributed 38 goals and 43 assists for 81 total points in 69 regular season and playoff games. Williams’ 15 power play goals saw him tied with Phil Esposito for second in the NHL, one marker behind Lanny MacDonald’s league-leading 16.
In 1974, Williams accomplished another memorable feat. In a playoff game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Williams scored three consecutive goals – a natural hat trick – in a single period. At that time, the NHL record for most goals in one period of a Stanley Cup Playoffs game was four, held jointly by Mario Lemieux and Windsor’s Tim Kerr. A handful of prominent NHLers, including Wayne Gretzky and Maurice Richard, have matched Williams’ total of three.
Williams was traded to the St. Louis Blues following the 1978-79 season, but he failed to stick with the club’s NHL roster. He enjoyed a short stint with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles in the CHL before calling it a career. Williams retired with very respectable career totals of 115 goals, 138 assists, and 253 points in 399 NHL games.