When he played briefly in the regular season for the second of two Flyers’ Stanley Cup teams in the ‘70s, they called defenseman Jack McIlhargey “Bucky.’’
And the name stuck.
He was one of nicest, funniest guys you could ever meet, except on that 200- by 80-foot sheet of ice.
That’s when the pleasantries ended.
Over the next four-plus decades, McIlhargey spent a great deal of time with the Vancouver Canucks but then came back to his original team, first as an assistant coach and later a scout.
So when he passed away on July 19 at age 68, there was a great deal of sadness, be it Bobby Clarke from way back or Claude Giroux in more recent times.
During Tuesday night’s NHL Entry Draft, the Flyers hung Bucky’s jersey on the wall behind general manager Chuck Fletcher and when it came time to make his draft selection, the GM narrated a brief tribute to the beloved player.
Later he talked about what McIlhargey meant to the Flyers’ organization.
“With Bucky, he was obviously close with a lot of people in the (draft) room,’’ Fletcher said. “The last time I actually saw him was in Vancouver last year at the draft. We had a great week there.
“He was around a lot. He lived out there. It was great to spend time with him then. Everybody’s thinking of him. He loved the draft, he loved the game. He was such a passionate hockey guy. Just a great human all around. I think everybody in that room was thinking of Bucky. He would have loved to be there today.’’
>Ridly Greig drafted by Ottawa
There was some speculation this week that Ridly Greig, the son of former Flyer player and current scout Mark Greig, might be drafted by Philadelphia at No. 23.
Instead, the Flyers went with center/right wing Tyson Foerster. Greig was taken at No. 28 by the Ottawa Senators (via a trade from the New York Islanders).
“He (Ridly) actually got a big ovation (in the Flyers’ draft room),’’ Fletcher said. “The whole room erupted when Ridly was selected. It has to be hard for Mark, he’s sitting there focused on our draft list and trying to make our pick.
“And I’m sure he was keenly aware of what was happening with Ridly. (He was) trying to manage the emotions all at once there. But we were very excited for Ridly. He’s a really good player and a fine young man. This will be a great opportunity for him.’’
Fletcher acknowledged there was the possibility of trading down in the draft to possibly stock up on the lower rounds (the Flyers do not have a third-round pick).
“I talked to lots of teams,’’ Fletcher admitted. “Calgary was able to move back a couple times and pick up third-round picks. But there wasn’t a lot of interest. I called even the other way (to trade up) but there just wasn’t a lot of willing buyers or sellers today. It was pretty quiet.’’
>Second day strategy
Rounds two through seven begin at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday and the Flyers insist they will not go after players to fill a need at a particular position. At least not for the second round.
“We absolutely under no circumstances will go for position,’’ Fletcher said. “Definitely take the best player like we did today. Regardless of the position, we’ll be happy to call the name.’’