Bushy-haired Jack McIlhargey will forever be remembered as one of hockey's toughest players in the 1970s. He will always be associated with one of two teams, too - the Philadelphia Flyers, where he was one of the pack known as the Broad Street Bullies, and the Vancouver Canucks, where he was a bit more of a lone wolf but a true fan favorite. He was actually raised in the nearby suburb of Burnaby.
Ray Scapinello was a long time NHL linesman, and he had to break up a lot of fights over his 33 years in the league. More than a few of those fights undoubtedly involved McIlhargey.
Scapinello wrote in his book Between The Lines that he had a great deal of respect for NHL tough guys, making a point to single out McIlhargey.
"One guy I really admire is Jack McIlhargey," wrote Scampy. "He was with the Flyers around their heyday, he mugged people, beat up people when he was in Philly, and then he got traded to the Canucks."
Scapinello officiated McIlhargey's first game against the Flyers.
"Now we'll see how tough this guy is," tought Scapinello. "He's got nobody to back him up."
"He ran Bob Clarke all night long, and nobody came near him. From that day on, I had a lot of respect for Jack. He was on his own out there, and he was fearless. They either had a lot of respect for him or they were paranoid of him."
Jack McIlhargey played in 393 NHL games, scored 11 goals and 36 assists for 47 points. He spent 1102 minutes sitting in the penalty box. He also appeared in 27 games scoring only 3 assists. During his 8 seasons as an NHL defenseman, Jack McIlhargey's trademark was that of a tough competitor who never backed down from anyone and a player who wore his heart on his sleeve. He was always a vocal leader both on the ice and in the dressing room. The popular McIlhargey had a way to get his teammates to perform at their best every night.
"I wasn't a great skater or a great player," McIlhargey once said. "But I worked hard. I knew, when I came to practice or a game, that I wouldn't be outworked."
With such leadership abilities, its not surprising that Jack became heavily involved in the coaching fraternity following his playing days, accepting several positions within both the Flyers and Canucks organizations.