As a hockey player, Barclay Plager was know as "Barc The Spark" because of the competitive fire that burned within his average-sized frame. Growing up in Kirkland Lake, Ontario meant either working in the local mines or hitting the ice for a ticket out of town. Plager opted for the latter in spite of his obvious lack of skill.
When he hooked up with the Peterborough Petes of the OHA in 1958, he embarked on the start of a lengthy trek along the journeyman's path to the NHL. What he lacked in skill was more than made up for with an unbending commitment to win at all costs.
His minor league voyage brought him through stints with the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, Quebec Aces, Pittsburgh Hornets, Edmonton Flyers, and Omaha Knights and even a three-year appointment with Eddie Shore and the Springfield Indians.
When the St. Louis Blues were born in 1967, Plager finally got a shot at full-time NHL employment. He wasted little time in establishing himself, along with his equally bruising brother, Bob, as the heart of his team's defense. In those early days, he was the Blues leading shot blocker, body crusher, and blueline scorer.
In all, he lasted nine seasons with the Blues, winning the hearts of the fans that admired his fierce competitiveness and gutsy style of play. Over the 614 games he played for St. Louis, Plager complemented his 1,115 penalty minutes with 44 goals and 187 assists. Part of the price he paid for all his time in the penalty box was 15 broken noses and hundreds of stitches.
After retiring from on-ice action in 1978, Plager developed his career within the ranks of the Blues' management, as a scout, an assistant coach, and eventually as the club's head coach. Sadly, Plager was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer during the mid-1980s, a disease he finally succumbed to in 1988.