Bill McCreary was born in Guelph, Ontario in 1955. Like most young boys, McCreary was an aspiring National Hockey League player, but after a brief junior career that included stops with the St. Catharines Black Hawks, Buffalo Tondas and Windsor Spitfires between 1972 and 1975, he was approached about officiating minor hockey. He joined the Ontario Hockey Association as a linesman in 1976-77, and then spent the next two seasons as a referee. After his third year in the OHA, John McCauley, the NHL's Supervisor of Officials, invited him to attend a training camp. Impressed with his abilities, McCreary was offered part-time work in the Central Hockey League and the American Hockey Leagues for the season.
In 1982, Scotty Morrison, the Referee-in-Chief of the National Hockey League, signed McCreary to an NHL contract. On November 3, 1984, he worked his first NHL game - a contest between the New Jersey Devils and the Washington Capitals at the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland. He officiated his final NHL game on April 2, 2011, and fittingly, the home team was once again the Washington Capitals, this time hosting the Buffalo Sabres.
In total, Bill McCreary officiated 1,737 regular season games, 297 playoff games and one All-Star game. Among his most memorable NHL games are the Stanley Cup finals between 1994 and 2007 as well as 2009, the 1994 All-Star Game in New York, the final game played in Maple Leaf Gardens on February 13, 1999, and Wayne Gretzky's last game on April 18, 1999.
In 2010, McCreary officiated his record-breaking 44th Stanley Cup Final game, surpassing the mark previously held by Bill Chadwick.
On the international stage, McCreary officiated at the 1991 Canada Cup, the 1998, 2002 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games, including the gold medal games at all three tournaments, and the 2005 Spengler Cup in Switzerland. Amongst his acknowledged career highlights are the 2002 and 2010 Olympic gold medal games between the United States and Canada, held in Salt Lake City and Vancouver respectively.
Bill McCreary is remembered for his fair and consistent officiating through a long career, as well as his trademark puck-flip before each opening faceoff, and is now an Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.