LOOKING BACK AT THE LANGLEY EAGLES’ 1984 BCJHL CHAMPIONSHIP
While having your name added to hockey’s Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup, is a remarkable feeling, it is not quite the same as winning a championship as a player.
Scott Bradley has won the biggest prize as both a player and executive.
The most recent prize was the Boston Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship. The 48-year-old Bradley, who is entering his 19th season with the organization, is the team’s director of player personnel.
But as sensational as it was to hoist the Cup, it was a different feeling of accomplishment compared to when Bradley helped the Langley Eagles capture the 1984 Fred Page Cup as B.C. Junior Hockey League champions, the lone title in the 28-year history of junior hockey in Langley.
“A lot of people don’t get to experience winning a championship,” Bradley said.
“(And) it is great to win the Stanley Cup but deep down, everyone wishes they were a player (on the team).”
Bradley formed part of the Eagles’ goaltending tandem with Ken Buker, as the pair combined to lead the 12-team league in goals against average.
Langley ran away with the Coastal Division title with a 40-8-2 record, 21 points clear of second place.
The playoffs were no different as the Eagles won both their Coastal Division playoff series 4-1, against Abbotsford and Nanaimo.
The finals matched Langley against the Penticton Knights and their prolific sniper, future Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull. During the regular season, Hull scored 105 goals and finished with 188 points, both of which still stand as BCHL records.
But after scoring two power play goals in Game 1, Hull was silenced as the Eagles won the Fred Page Cup with a four-game sweep.
It was hard not to remember Hull, especially for Bradley, who sported eight stitches on his head courtesy of a booming shot from the sniper during the regular season.
“As a goalie, you always knew when (Hull) stepped onto the ice,” Bradley said. “He was dangerous from everywhere and he could really rip it.”
The Eagles were a veteran-laden team – 15 of the 21 were in the final season of junior – and many of the players were new to Langley, as was first-year head coach John Olver.
“We put Paul Lelievre out to shadow Brett Hull and he did one of the greatest checking jobs that I can remember,” recalled Olver.
Most of the Eagles had championship experience, having won the league title the year before in Abbotsford and advancing to the Centennial Cup (now the RBC Cup) final before losing.
Olver was an assistant with Abbotsford, so he knew what he was getting when he brought the players to Langley.
“Big, strong talented team with a lot of characters and I emphasize the word characters. There were some interesting personalities there, just some really unique personalities,” Olver said with a chuckle. “The only trouble was the team was harder to handle off the ice than it was on the ice.”
“We had some fun, trust me,” Bradley offered. “We had a lot of characters.”
Langley was coming off a mediocre season, so the fans were slow to warm up to this new Eagles squad assembled by owner/general manager Ron Dixon.
That would change as the season progressed and the fans began flocking to the Langley Civic Centre (now the George Preston Recreation Centre).
“As the team had success, and more people became familiar with the team and saw the calibre of play, our fan base grew,” Olver said. “By the end of the season we were drawing real well and selling out our games.”
The 1984 Eagles magical playoff run continued for a few more rounds after they won the Fred Page Cup. Langley defeated Prince George to win the Mowat Cup and then knocked off Fort Saskatchewan in the Doyle Cup. But the team’s run would end in the Abbott Cup, falling to the eventual national champion Weyburn Red Wings.
Some of the Eagles found success at the minor league level or in Europe. And many are still in the game, working as scouts and coaches.
Bradley played in the minors and suited up in some NHL pre-season action. But he found his success as an executive, winning the Calder Cup with the Providence Bruins in 1999, when he was Boston's head scout, and now the Stanley Cup.
He remains connected to his hockey roots in B.C. and is still involved in the BCHL as a part owner of the Surrey Eagles.
Prior to joining the Bruins organization, Bradley coached junior and senior in Abbotsford, advancing to the Allan Cup, Canada's National Senior Championship.
“Each step of the way you win, all those experiences I think have helped along my journey,” Bradley said.