This is Barclay Plager in the uniform of the Edmonton Flyers (WHL) in 1962-63. Before he passed away (brain cancer) in 1988, he’d spent the mid-60s in the high minors, 9 years in the NHL as a tough blueliner who played bigger than his size, time with the Blues as a scout, assistant coach and then head coach.
The following is from the mid-70s, as he looked back on the Philadelphia Flyers recent Cup victory and his own Blues and their trips to the finals:
We were in awe of Montreal. They were a great hockey team. We had one good player–Red Berenson. They had five or six–Beliveau, Cournoyer, all those guys. That first game, if we had won that game in Montreal….we lost it 3-1, when (John) Ferguson put it into the open net near the end of the game….we wouldn’t have beaten the Canadiens but it might have turned our way of thinking around and we might have won a couple of games. But there’s a big difference between the Philadelphia Flyers of today and the St. Louis Blues of 7 years ago. They have a lot more good hockey players than we did, and they are just working hard, outworking everybody on the Boston Bruins.
We worked hard the first year because we were proud to be the first expansion team in the finals. We didn’t work as hard the second time. Philadelphia wasn’t as good as Boston talent-wise–or New York (Rangers) for that matter–but they had Bobby Clarke and they had good goaltending, and they worked hard. They proved again that it’s not the best team that wins the Cup, it’s the hardest working team.