Also known as the Broad Street Bullies, the Philadelphia Flyers of the 1970s were a huge force to be reckoned with. The following is a closer look at the success of this legendary team.
During the NHL expansion draft, in which many of the players were either aging or had spent their entire careers in the minors, the Flyers selected 20 players. Making their debut in October of 1967, the season began with an upset as the team lost 5-1 while on the road. Fortunately, so as to not slip into a losing streak, the Flyers won their first game (against the Saint Louis Blues) just a week later. A relatively impressive first season, the Flyers went on to win the division with a sub-.500 record. More impressively, they pulled this off despite being forced to play their final seven home games on the road due to a massive storm that damaged their stadium’s roof.
Led by Van Impe as the team captain, the Flyers’ second season was disappointing as they were once again beaten by St. Louis in the finals. After another disappointing season, the majority owner, Ed Snider, demanded the team acquire larger and more fierce competitors. Taking a chance on Bobby Clarke, a 19-year-old diabetic from Manitoba, the Flyers soon saw the fruits of this move. Easily the team’s best player, Clarke quickly became a fan favorite. However, having one of the most disappointing seasons to date, despite Clarke’s stellar performance, the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time.
However, the team began a superstitious tradition in which they played Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” rather than “The Star-Spangled Banner” before major games. Since it seemed the team had more successful games when they performed this ritual, the tradition grew.
Although they did not begin their journey as one of the fiercest teams in the league, by 1972, the team had earned the name of “Broad Street Bullies” (which was coined by Jack Chevalier and Pete Cafone of the Philadelphia Bulletin). After an impressive season (in which Rick MacLeish became the first Flyer ever to score 50 goals in one season) an overtime goal in Game 5 scored the team their first playoff victory against the Minnesota North Stars, in 6 games.
As if that weren’t impressive enough, the team also pulled off back-to-back Stanley Cup victories in 1973-1974 and 1974-1975. Moreover, they even managed to pull off the second win despite playing in “The Fog Game,”a game in which they played in heavy fog due to abnormally hot weather in the city of Buffalo.
Overall, despite beginning as a team of underdogs, the Philadelphia Flyers are proof that winning is for is not just for the insanely talented. It’s also for those who flat out refuse to give up.
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