The Flyers, The Broad Street Bullies and Now

This year I paid more attention to hockey than I have in year. I know that I only really paid attention during the Olympics and the playoffs, but it has been since I lived in Pennsylvania since I watched 5 or more hockey games in a season.

The Flyers just walked into the history books, being just the third NHL team to come from three games down to win a best of seven series. They played their way all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. I know this was a surprise not only to the greater hockey world, but also to Flyers fans. I doubt the biggest Stepford Flyers Fans thought they would be playing for the cup.

I watched the playoff games and they were exciting. There is a tension of a must win hockey playoff that is unmatched by anything else in sports. When your team is down by one goal, they will never get another chance. When they are up by one goal, the clock cannot tick fast enough. When it is tied, every turnover might be the end decider. It gave me an upset stomach a few of the games.

To get ready for the Playoffs I watched the HBO documentary Broad Street Bullies. The movie traces the start of the Philadelphia Flyers from the NHL expansion to winning back to back Stanley Cups.

I watched the show and I liked it. The Flyers won the cup in '74 and '75. I am just young enough that I don't remember it. My first sports memory is the Phillies Clinching the NL East in 76. They won the Cup before I could remember. I do remember Bobby Clarke and the Flyers loosing in the 80 Cup finals to the Islanders.

The reason the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals really stick out in my head is because of the long shadow that Broad Street Bullies cast over the Flyers and the rest of the Philadelphia sports landscape. Those guys were the gold standard. Bernie Parent, Dave Schultz, Bill Barber, Rick MacLeish, and Barry Ashbee where all house hold names even in houses like mine where we did not watch Hockey. They are kings in Philadelphia even to today.

The people who lived across the street from me had season tickets to the Flyers. The father was an accountant in a big downtown firm. I remember they had taken the team pictures from 1975 and 1976 and framed them in their family room.

In the town I grew up a couple of the Flyers opened an ice rink, Face Off Circle. People always had stories about the time they did business with Bernie Parent or the time they ran into Bobby Clarke at the local diner. Some how they were part of the core of the community.

After college I hung out with a bunch of guys who were just older than me. They had a much deeper love for the Flyers than the guys I knew from high school or college. Since the first winning event of their sports memory was the Flyers winning the Stanly Cup with a team very fitting of Philadelphia, it made them Flyers fans for life. For me hockey was the sport to watch when no other team was playing. That is a story about sports that I have never seen, how people pick their favorite sport.

The Flyers lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Blackhawks. Currently the Flyers are a -4 in the Stanley Cup +/- column. That means the Broad Street Bullies still haunt that team. Another year will have to wait before the cup comes back. Good News for the Blackhawks is that every team the Flyers have lost to won at least two cups in a row.


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