Bill Barber

New fans to the game know Bill Barber as the 2001 Jack Adams Award winner (coach of the year) with the Philadelphia Flyers. What they might not realize is that while that was Barber's first season behind the Flyer's bench, he is now in his third decade of service with the Flyers.

And what a 30 years it has been for the Callander, Ontario native!

Bill Barber started his career with the Flyers farm team in 1973. After 11 games he was called up to Philadelphia as an injury replacement, and never left.

A center throughout junior, Flyers legendary coach Fred Shero utilized his speed and skill as a left winger alongside Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke. Barber would go on to record 420 goals, along with 53 more in the playoffs. He was a key member of the two Stanley Cup championship Flyers teams in 1974 and 1975. He was selected as a first team All-Star once and a second team All-Star twice. Once he scored 50 goals, 5 times he scored over 40 and 9 times he scored 30 goals! He played in the Canada Cup and World Championships. He was highly regarded as one of the best forwards in his era. He is immortalized forever now as his number 7 hangs high in the rafters in Philly and he is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame..

Barber of course played In a time when the Philadelphia Flyers were nicknamed "The Broadstreet Bullies." Barber however was never a goon. Instead established himself as one of the greatest skilled wingers the game has ever seen. His speed and scoring prowess were integral parts of the two Stanley Cup celebrations.

There was no doubting that he was among the best players in hockey

"I can't think of a winger in the NHL who was a better all around hockey player," remembers former teammate Rick MacLeish

"He skated up and down the ice with the reliability of a metronome, and by dedicating his NHL career to blending in, he stood out," wrote Philly hockey beat writer Jay Greenberg. "He had the soul of a grinder, but the talent of a an artist."

Of course Bill is also remembered for perfecting the dive. He had a knack of drawing penalties and frustrating opponents by embellishing infractions. The dive is considered to be a European import in the professional game, but Barber mastered it just as the European invasion began.

Bill Barber was forced to retire due to knee surgery in 1984. The career ending surgery cut short Bill's bid to score 500 goals and 1000 points, yet the Hockey's Hall of Fame selection committee forgave Bill for not being able to reach those milestones and included him among the hockey immortals anyways..

"I wanted to be remembered as being capable of doing my job day in and day out, not just as a goal scorer but was a good all around player for every kind of situation." once asked Barber to share his favourite hockey memories, and they often centered around the international game:

"I think obviously the early years and the championship teams and from there the Canada Cups. The '76 Canada Cup, the '78 Challenge Cup in New York. I went to the '81 Canada Cup but I hurt my knee the very last inter-squad game and I couldn't participate that year. I went to Europe one year after we didn't do too well in the playoffs and I went over there and played for Canada in Finland and had the opportunity to play with Gretzky which was good.

Also the Russian game we played here when they went through that one year on tour. They hadn't lost. They tied a couple games but they hadn't lost a game until they faced us and I thought it was, I wouldn't say a lopsided game, but pretty close to it. We out-shot them heavily and outplayed them and ended up winning the game, 4-1, and that's when they had walked off the ice.

So that's another moment that stays there. And I can go to the team that went 35 games without a loss, the year we went to the Finals. That's another memory that will stay there with me a long time. Any time you can have a team that doesn't lose in 35 games that means you've got to be doing something right."

Barber turned to coaching, and was particularly successful in the AHL with Philadelphia's farm team, the Philadelphia Phantoms.

"It's different in its own sense. You feel helpless at times. You prepare your team the best you can possibly prepare them and yet you sit back and you watch and you say, 'Geez, I wish I could be of help here. I've been through this before, the pressure aspect of things," Barber said of coaching.


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