Merlyn John "Bill" Phillips - Born May 25, 1896 in Richmond Hill, Ontario – Died January 10, 1978 in Thessalon, Ontario was a Canadian professional ice Hockey centreman.
Phillips played his junior Hockey with the OHA University of Western Ontario - 1914-15, London Ontarios 1915-16 and the London AAB - 1917-17, but finished this last season with the senior London 149th Hockey Team.
Phillips then served in World War 1 with the 63rd Depot Battery Regiment, and returned to Hockey in 1919 with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, where he stayed for the next 6 seasons. Phillips played a big part of the Greyhounds team during their 1924 playoff run to the 1924 Allan Cup championship.
While playing for Sault Ste. Marie, Phillips was signed as a free agent by NHL Montreal Maroons, February 17, 1926, and was called up to the Maroons with 12 games remaining in the season, and it took Phillips a few weeks to become fully comfortable with the pro game and he finally hit his stride on March 11 against the New York Americans. The Gazette sports section featured a headline, "Phillips Starred as Montreal Beat New York Team 5-1".
During the 1926 NHL playoffs, Montreal went on to beat the third seed Pittsburgh Pirates and then defeated the first place Ottawa Senators 2 goals to 1 in a two-game total goals series, thus capturing the Prince of Wales Trophy and the right to play the Pacific Coast Hockey Association / PCHA Victoria Cougars for the Stanley Cup. Phillips scored 2 goals in the first round and this was reported about Phillips when playing the Senators "Bill Phillips, who has been the sensation in the Maroon camp since he joined pro company one month ago after a Meteoric career with the Soo Greyhounds, was the bright performer for the Maroons. Phillips paved the way for Seibert's goal. He poked Frank Nighbor out of action and offensively was the pivot of many Maroon attacks. But it was Phillips' courage under a heavy gruelling which brought him the greatest commendation. He was a target throughout the game. He stood his bumps gamely and came back for more. In the second period he was knocked dizzy by a clout from Finnegan. He was relieved, but back in action within five minutes."
Phillips notched a goal and an assist against Victoria in the best of 5 finals, and the NHL record book counts only games versus NHL teams and has him as the goal leader in the 1926 NHL playoffs with 3 goals, 1 assist. Rookie Nels Stewart scored 6 of Montreal's 10 overall goals in the 4 games vs the Cougars, but did not get recognized in the record book, as the games were vs the PCHA.
Montreal won the 1926 Stanley Cup championship, and Phillips was one of the better players on the ice as a hard working, playmaking, defense first centreman.
Phillips would go on to play six full seasons with the Maroons and finished two goals behind Nels Stewart for the team lead in 1926/27.
Phillips also set a NHL record, as the 1st player to score a goal 5 seconds into a game vs the Chicago Black Hawks on December 29, 1926. Bryan Trottier became the second player in modern NHL history to score :05 into play. Doug Smail did so for the Winnipeg Jets in 1981 and Buffalo Sabres Alex Mogilny would join them in the record book in 1991.
Phillips was signed as a free agent by the NHL New York Americans, November 21, 1932, but retired from Hockey after playing just 30 games in New York.
Phillips played 302 regular season NHL games, scoring 52 goals, 31 assists and played 24 NHL playoff games, scoring 5 goals, 1 assist.