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Retired Numbers

Barclay Plager #8
Position: Defense
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175
Shoots: Left
Born: Mar. 25, 1941, Kirkland Lake, Ont.

Barclay Plager, along with his brother Bob, had a profound impact on the birth of the St. Louis Blues. A rock solid defender and one of the fiercest competitors in all of hockey, Barclay Player became a legend in addition to a loyal ambassador of hockey in the community.

As a player, Barclay lived for unity and team play. If someone tried to take advantage of a teammate, you could bet that player would have to answer to a Plager (or maybe even two or three – brother Billy also played four seasons in St. Louis) before the game ended.

“Once you’ve been around this game for awhile, it became a part of you…it’s in your blood,” said Barclay Plager, who spent his entire playing career – 614 games – with the Blues. He also served as an assistant coach and head coach before succumbing to cancer in 1989.

Barclay was universally loved by the hockey-crazed fans who filled the St. Louis Arena in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His no-holds-barred play delighted fans, who sang “When the Blues Come Marching In” in those early years. The anthem inspired Barc, nicknamed “Barc the Spark.”

“We’d hear the fans singing and the hair on the back of your neck would stand up,” recalled Barc of the early days.

Barclay Plager was a key element to the Blues’ three consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup finals between 1967 and 1970 – the first three years of the franchise. Along with Hall of Famer Doug Harvey, tough guy Noel Picard and steady Al Arbour, the Blues were talented and deep on defense. They took great pride in keeping opposing offensive players at bay.

“We did anything to protect the goaltender,” recalled Bob Plager. “The greatest time for us was the year we won the Vezina Trophy (in 1969). Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante were in goal and we only allowed 157 goals. That record will probably never be broken. Winning the Vezina was the finest reward anyone could get.”

Barclay Plager was a savage hitter and a fiery competitor. He didn’t take any lip from opponents during an era when tough players were the rule rather than the exception.

Scotty Bowman, who coached the Blues in the late 60s and the early 70s, considered Barclay one of the game’s premier physical players. In 1988, Bowman was asked to write a story for a hockey magazine titled “Scotty Bowman Creates The Ultimate All-Star.” Bowman said of Barclay, “As far as I was concerned, nobody hit any harder than Barclay for his size and strength.”

Barc was captain of the Blues during his tenure. He could move the puck, make plays and score in addition to his physical play. He scored 44 goals and 231 points in 614 career games with the Blues. His 1,115 penalty minutes were a team standard until his protégé, Brian Sutter, shattered the record in the 1980s.

Barc was a student of the game whose love for the game never wavered. When it came time to play the games, no one wore the Bluenote with more pride and passion than Barclay Plager.