Tracers- Barclay Plager

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.

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4 Responses to "Tracers- Barclay Plager"

  1. DeBakey says:

    That would be a good third jersey
    Just change Flyers to Oilers

    Barclay, Bob & Bill

    The score sheet would read
    Assist – B. Plager

    And you’d scratch your head.

  2. Coach pb9617 says:

    That would be a good third jersey
    Just change Flyers to Oilers

    Hell yes, and you might not even need to change.

  3. Matt says:

    1. 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…

    2. They [the Flyers] proved again that it’s not the best team that wins the Cup, it’s the hardest working team.

    The incongruity between these two statements is a rather fabulous illustration of why you oughtn’t take what former players say at face value. (“They played the game and *they know*?” Not always.) It’s awfully hard to see the forest when you’re surrounded by all those trees.

  4. Bruce says:

    Give the guy a break, Matt, he had a brain tumour.

    It is interesting how time affects the memory. The 3-1 game Plager described was Game One of the 1969 SCF, the second series between the Habs and the Blues. No doubt the Blues were still in awe of Montreal, but surely no more so than they had been in the first series, when they were a true expansion team thrown to the wolves against a hockey dynasty.

    He’s right though the Blues played better the first year, when they lost four one-goal games, two of them in overtime. It was a surprisingly competitive series, as the Blues (including ex-Habs Berenson, Dickie Moore and Doug Harvey and Montreal-trained coaching phenom Scotty Bowman) refused to admit they were outclassed. Barclay Plager himself scored, unassisted, the first goal of the first game of the first post-expansion SCF.

    By Year Two Harvey and Moore were histoire, and everybody including the Blues themselves knew who had the better team. The Habs blew through a desultory Final series by an aggregate score of 12-3. In 1970 the Blues lost yet a third Finals sweep, to the Bruins by an aggregate 20-7, and the NHL changed the playoff structure thereafter.

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