The City of Cleveland has lost a hockey legend. William “Bill” Needham passed away on January 25, 2022 at the age of 90. The native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario played fifteen seasons (1956-71) with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League (AHL) where he was a standout defenseman. During the 1963-64 season Needham became team captain and the Barons would go on to win the franchise’s ninth Calder Cup. Needham won the “Eddie Shore Award” as the AHL’s top defenseman for 1967-68. When his tenure with the Barons came to an end he had played the most regular season games (981) in team history. After retiring as a player, Needham was named the first head coach for the Cleveland Crusaders of the upstart World Hockey Association (WHA). In his two seasons behind the Crusaders bench (1972-74), Needham led the team to the playoffs. In retirement, Needham continued to call Cleveland home and hockey remained his passion, he coached high school hockey for the Lakewood Rangers, winning Cleveland High School Hockey League (GCHSHL) “Coach-of-the-Year” honors in 1978. and worked at Winterhurst Arena for a number of years. Needham was inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.
Bill Needham #6