Rick Ley was one of the most important figures of the Whalers during the WHA years, joining the team in 1972 and remaining with the franchise until the 1980-81 season. The defenseman began his career with Toronto after being selected by the Maple Leafs during the 1966 NHL Draft, and despite NHL success Ley made his way to the up and coming WHA.
Ley was a steady presence for the Whalers, serving as team captain for six years, while playing in nearly 500 WHA games for New England. Following his playing career, Ley found success in coaching, the majority of it coming at the NHL level. He coached the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL from 1984 until 1988, winning the championship in ’85-’86 as well as winning the Commissioner’s Trophy in ’84-’85.
In 1989, Ley was named head coach of the Hartford Whalers, where he spent two seasons behind the bench. He would go on to become a coach for both the Vancouver Canucks, appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993-94, and for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1998-2006.
Rick Ley was one of three Whalers to have their numbers retired by the original NHL franchise, seeing his #2 raised to the rafters alongside Gordie Howe and John McKenzie.