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Scotty and the Blues


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I love the history of the game, absolutely love the little nuances of who what where and why. One thing I have just recently been studying is the 1968-70 St. Louis Blues, the all time king of expansion clubs.

  In the first three seasons of the NHL first expansion, the Scotty Bowman led Blues made the Stanley cup finals not once, not twice, but ALL THREE SEASONS. Granted they were swept all three times but a young Scotty Bowman managed to establish himself as a coach to be reckoned with.

  My favorite story from Scotty during that time was the Blues had there share of heavy drinkers and their minor league club was located in Kansas City. According to Gary Sabourin who was a solid wing always in the Chateau Bow wow of Bowmans, the players were in the bar after a loss whooping it up and Bowman made an unexpected appearance, walking over to the jukebox and dialed in ;Kansas City here I come.' Within minutes the bar resembled a ghost town.

  A mix of young players who were buried in the systems of the original six clubs, Sabourin, Terry Crisp, Red Berenson, the immensely skilled two way forward Jimmy Roberts and the nasty Plager brothers played alongside veterans who were over the hill but still had something to give, most of whom were older than their coach. Hall of fame goalies Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante manned the net, geezers such as Al Arbour (Yes the second winningest coach ever played for the first winningest ever) Former Canadian greats Doug Harvey, the greatest d-man in the history of the game pre Bobby Orr, Jean Guy Talbot, Dickie Moore, Ab McDonald, Phil Goyette, Camille Henry and Noel Picard all were squeezed for every ounce of ability that they still had, This club was average during the regular season but turned it on come post season. And Bowman began an epic NHL coaching career that culminated with him wining more Stanley Cups than anyone in the game by taking this collection of has beens, never weres and retreads and forming a  club that could compete on any given night with anyone.

  And one other thing the coaches that came from Bowman include

 Al Arbour who played while wearing his glasses and who went on to win 4 cups on the Island

 Jimmy Roberts who coached for Bowman in Buffalo and followed Scotty around in one role or another forever.

  Terry Crisp who won two cups as a player with the Flyers and then became the only coach to lead the Calgary Flames to a cup win.

   Jean Guy Talbot coached the Rangers to moderate success

   Barclay Plager coached the Blues

   Red Berenson is one of the greatest college coaches of all time, no hyperbole.

   Camille Henry and Jacques Plante both coached in the WHA


  I am sure I am missing one or two. The point is he took this bunch of castoffs and won and taught them. They learned how to win as a team and many of them went on to successful careers in the game after their careers were over, a much higher proportion than what it should have been. Hanging around Bowman had a lot to do with it. They never won the cup, the finals were stacked against them facing the amazing Habs twice and arguably the greatest Bruin team of all time in the finals but this team deserves recognition for getting as much out of the talent as any club that I can think of over a three year period.

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