It may be hard to believe, but there was a time that the Philadelphia Flyers were a team full of Smurfs. As an expansion team from 1967, the Flyers loaded up on skilled by tiny forwards such as Simon Nolet, Andre Lacroix, Jimmy Johnson, and Guy Gendron. They quickly realized that they needed size and strength in order to accomplish NHL success, and they quickly turned their focus to big, nasty men. Soon enough they became known as the Broad Street Bullies and pounded their way to two consecutive Stanley Cup championships by the mid 1970s. While the days of Bullies are gone, the Flyers have always been one of the biggest and most physical teams since then.
One of the first men they brought in to fill this size problem was Serge Bernier - a 6'1" 200lb center. It was hoped that he could come in and soak up some of the heavy checking against some of the large and rugged Eastern teams. In fact Serge was the first ever draft pick in Philadelphia Flyers history.
Serge was born in Padoue, Quebec and was happy to be placed in the AHL with the Flyers farm team in Quebec City. Bernier spent three years there before finally making the Flyers in 1970-71.
Given the desperate need to add size up the middle, Serge was given every chance to succeed that season, and he responded well with 23 goals and 51 points. However by mid season in 1971-72 it was decided that the Flyers needed to upgrade their physical play more so, and Bernier, along with Bill Lesuk and Jimmy Johnson, was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for Cowboy Bill Flett, Ross Lonsberry, Jean Potvin and Eddie Joyal. Serge finished the season with 23 goals and 45 points.
Serge played one more season with Los Angeles, and blossomed to the 22 goal, 46 assist, 68 point level. However Serge jumped at the chance to join the World Hockey Association at season's end. He was a free agent and his WHA rights were acquired by the Quebec Nordiques. Serge eagerly signed with his home province Nords.
Serge's best years as a professional came as a Nordique and in the WHA. He became a true scoring threat in his 6 seasons in the WHA. He was a constant 35 goal threat although once scored 43 and 54 goals. He was better known as a playmaker as his 336 assists in just 417 WHA games attests. And his 566 career WHA points ranks him tied for 4th overall in league scoring history.
Serge was the star of the Nordiques teams in the WHA, even if Jean Claude Tremblay got more attention. Of course Serge's best year came in 1976-77 when the Nordiques won the Avco Cup as WHA champions. Serge was named as the playoff MVP as he led all skaters with 14 goals, 22 assists and 36 points in 17 contests.
When the WHA folded in 1979, Serge joined the Nordiques as they merged with the NHL. However injuries took their toll on Serge, who only played two half seasons in his two year return to the NHL before retiring quietly in the summer of 1981.