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How The Broad Street Bullies Were Born

How The Broad Street Bullies Were Born

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We are supposed to be watching some Stanley Cup hockey right now. But for the sake of humanity, we quarantine, sequester, and stay for the most part indoors, hoping to not run out of toilet paper. Alas, to relive the rivalries, there is Youtube. Being that it IS that time when we should be watching the NHL playoffs, and given the fact that our beloved Bruins were the top seed, 100 points, 44 wins with a mere 14 losses (and the 12 OTLs) I took to YouTube to watch some old Bruins highlights. I couldn’t help but marvel at the 1974 Stanley Cup match up between the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers, owners of the ugliest orange sweaters in all of hockey. In our neighborhood it wasn’t that we disliked the Flyers, we hated the Flyers. “Flyers”. What’s a “Flyer” anyway?? 

Well, the Flyers came into the NHL as an expansion team in 1967. They were like the new kid on the block, and does anyone really like the new kid on the block? Not really. The records show they were for the most part competitive, and in the 73-74 season put together a 50-16-12 record. They played well behind their toothless captain Bobby Clarke, and their fist slinger Dave Schultz, and their goalie, Bernie Parent (47 wins). Parent was interesting in this series as he was taken by Philadelphia from Boston in the expansion draft. Boston came into the series riding the success of the season leaders in goals and assists from Phil Esposito (68 goals), and Bobby Orr (90 assists). These two teams smashed into each other like atoms in an accelerator.

As odd as this sounds, the Bruins were the finesse team in this match. The first game was a tight 3-2 win for the B’s. It was none other than Orr who took  a blocked shot up the ice, and drilled a shot past Parent for the win. Game two dramatics came from Bobby Clarke, in an OT win. Series was now tied 1-1. However, we watched the Bruins give the next two games away, putting themselves in a 3 games to 1 hole. Game 5 was the game to remember. The first eight minutes of the game featured about thirty-five minutes of penalties and a few seconds of uneventful  hockey. The fight card was similar to a present day MMA card. Carol Vadnais vs Bruce Cowick, Terry O’Reilly vs Andre Leduc. Wayne Cashman vs Dave Schultz.For the most part, everyone on the ice had paired off with someone for the dance. O’Reilly and Schultz would go at it later, in fact they had a few decent fights during the series, as well as throughout the years. 

Flyers took home the Stanley Cup in 1974

Boston may have won the battle winning game five with a  5-1 score, but lost the war. The Flyers claimed the Cup in six games. The “Broad Street Bullies” as they were known, punched their way to a Stanley Cup victory. In fact, two of them. They turned around the next year and defeated the Buffalo Sabres for a second consecutive NHL championship. One must give credit where credit is due, and the truth is the Flyers had a very good team. A lot of people thought hockey wouldn’t work in Philadelphia. The struggles to find funding for the team, and struggled to find a decent place to call home ice. They would be competing in region that already had the Rangers and Bruins. Boston 300 miles away, and New York City 90 miles away. And while they were definitely a tough fighting team, Shultz had 20 goals to go with his over 300 penalty minutes, Capt Bobby Clarke netted 35 goals on the season, as well as three other goal scorers who had put in over 30 goals (Barber 34, Lonsberry 32, and MacLeish 32). Parent’s 1.89 GAA didn’t hurt either. So, while it pains me to say this, the Flyers were in fact worthy opponents, and as an NHL fan, I look back to the great rivalry with the Flyers with fondness.

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