Barry Edgar was a leader.
Those are the first words used to describe the Petrolia man who was the captian of the Petrolia Squires when they won the Allan Cup in 1979 and 1981 by the people who were there with him.
Edgar died Thursday after a battle with cancer.
“He was a leader,” says Doug Simpson, his line mate on those winning teams and who had played minor hockey with him for years before that. “He was stubborn and all business…he was serious about the game.
“When we played midget hockey, we strived to win all the time and that’s what we did.”
Edgar was born in Clinton and moved with his family to Petrolia where his father was the principal of LCCVI. Simpson says Edgar and his brother, Brian, played every sport going and brought their strong work ethic with them which rubbed off on him and the other players.
After high school Edgar went to the University of New Hampshire on a hockey scholarship.
Simpson says Edgar was a very skilled hockey player as a teen, but after his time at New Hampshire, he shone on the ice.
“He could always hit so hard…but when he came back he could pass the puck better and he could skate better; his game improved so much and his attitude improved. He was kind of unique.”
He brought that unique style of play to the Petrolia Squires. He and Simpson and Ed Wagner were line mates on a “Cinderella team” according to Simpson.
In the dressing room, those leadership skills were evident according to Ira Downer, who was the general manager of the team. “He was a leader,” says Downer. “Everybody looked to Barry. He had great leadership qualities on the ice and in the dressing room he wasn’t afraid to speak up – he was a true captain.
“When Barry spoke, the players listened.
“He had a work ethic that was second to none and he was so reliable; he was always there, he didn’t miss practices and he was starting to raise a young family then.”
And while Edgar was the clear leader of the team; Downer says he wasn’t above some ribbing.
“I was the bus driver – we had our own bus…I’d be at the back of the arena loading up and as soon as Barry Edgar got on the bus, I could leave. He was always the last one on the bus – unbelievable,” Downer says with a laugh.
Simpson says it became clear early on in the 1978-1979 year that the Squires had something special happening on the ice. Team management decided they would shoot for the Canadian championship. “We were just so dominate – that’s why they chose to take a run at the Allan Cup,” he says.
Simpson says the team rose to the challenge under Edgar’s leadership who lead by example working hard on the ice and urging his team mates on. Simpson says Edgar would skate up to him at a face-off and say “You gotta be better.”
The Squires were the best in Canada in 1979 and 1981.
“It was a Cinderella story how things kind of just kept going,” says Simpson. “We were the underdogs all the time; we kept preserving.”
Winning the cup in Sarnia, he says, was a “monumental day you never forget…It was an unbelievable time of your life because good things kept happening.”
Simpson and Edgar and his team mates continued to share a special bond through the years, even though they didn’t see each other as much. Simpson visited with Edgar just before he went to St. Joseph’s Hospice. He was full of concern not for himself, but for Simpson’s wife, who had been ill.
The members of that Petrolia Squires team gathered at the funeral home Monday and went in en masse to pay their final respects. Edgar was also remembered that night at Petrolia Town Council where Mayor John McCharles says Edgar was “one of our people who puts Petrolia on the map” through the win.
And while the community remembers Edgar for that Allan Cup run, it is family pictures which dominate his online obituary – there are dozens of pictures of Edgar with a wide smile playing with his children and grandchildren.
“Barry was a sports enthusiast who held a close bond with all of his teammates,” the family wrote in his obituary, “but most of all he was a devoted family man.”
Edgar died surrounded by his wife, Mary Jo, and his four children with the Stanley Cup final on the TV. He was 60.