Tall Boys #9 – Doug Barkley

Posted: February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Doug Barkley - 1964-65 Topps Tall Boys On of the biggest reasons I was always drawn to old cards is that I liked reading contemporary views of players that either I never saw or that I only remembered as being really, really old.  In a sense, this blog offers the same opportunity.  I learn a lot about these guys as I try to figure out what to say.

Doug Barkley is a case in point.  I knew he had played for a little while, since I have the cards that came out during his career.  I knew he was briefly a Wings coach and didn’t have a ton of luck, but really very little else.

It turns out that Barkley is one of those cases of a promising career cut short by injury – and it really makes me wonder why we put up with this sort of thing.  Equipment is better than it once was, but the number of careers that are derailed by completely-preventable accidents remains mind-boggling.  (I still get bent out of shape over the loss of Bryan Berard and the long-term effects that had on a team that was very close to contention.)

Like Gary Bergman in card #8, Barkley was an old rookie.  He’d had cups of coffee in Chicago in the late 1950s, but didn’t register a point and really didn’t score a lot in the minors either.

Starting in 1959-60, Doug began to find his offensive game, putting up seasons of 25 and 37 points before exploding for 25 goals and 74 points in 1961-62 for the Calgary Stampeders of the WHL.  This got the attention of the Detroit Red Wings, who traded for him in June, 1962.

As a Red Wing, Doug played a robust game with offensive upside.   Stan Fischler compared his play to that of Larry Robinson, who would come a decade later.  He put up 27 points as a rookie, narrowly missing out on the Calder to fellow defenseman Kent Douglas.  He would lead all defensemen in 1963-64 with 11 goals before slipping back to 5 in 1964-65.  

His 1965-66 campaign was shaping up to be of potential all-star calibre.  By late January, he’d already matched his previous season’s goal total and was heading for a career high in points.  His season ended abruptly when he was clipped in the eye by an accidental high stick of Doug Mohns.  Mohns was attempting to lift Barkley’s stick, missed, and the blade instead came up and struck Barkley’s face.  Surgery was unable to restore his sight, and Barkley never played another game.

Barkley’s career was done before it really ever began. The loss cost the Red Wings greatly, who certainly could have used a top-end defender in the 1966 Stanley Cup Final, and who would slip into mediocrity in the later 1960s and 70s and could definitely have used the help on the back end.

Barkley stayed with the team and coached the team for three short-lived stints.  He was later known back in Calgary as the long-time radio colour commentator of the Calgary Flames.

H/T again to Joe Pelletier for so much of the backstory.

Doug Barkley - 1964-65 Topps Tall Boys back

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