The story happens on may 16, 1976. There is, therefore, 44 years to the day. Montreal is two months to present the olympic Games, but the interest of sports fans goes elsewhere. The Canadian put an end to the reign of the Philadelphia Flyers, alias the Broad Street Bullies, sweeping the Stanley Cup final.
Revered by their fans for their style focuses on the harshness and the violence, the Flyers are the team most hated in the national hockey League, with 18 teams. They are the champions of boxing on ice. They sow the brawl wherever they go.
The flu of Philadelphia
Two months prior to their fall face to the Habs, Don Saleski, Joe Watson, and Mel Bridgman are apprehended by the Toronto police for incidents that occurred on the ice of Maple Leaf Gardens.
Several opposing players fear to play at the Spectrum, where fans wear helmets military style nazi.
Some even go so far as to say package under the pretext that they do not feel well. They said with the flu in Philadelphia.
“This is a great win for hockey ! “
Serge Savard has been closely monitoring Bill Clement. Behind the great advocate of the hc, we note Dave Schultz.
But after two conquests of the cup, the Flyers hit their Waterloo. They are replaced by the Canadian. In the euphoria of the celebrations, Serge Savard throws a stone into the pond.
“This is a great win for hockey !” exclaimed he.
His statement exudes the same power as a punch of Dave Schultz, the brawler-in-chief of the Flyers. The team owner, Ed Snider, the cash hard.
“I had practically never looked at then,” says Savard of his secondary residence of Hilton Head Island.
Of a four-fight club
The two men crossed paths often when Savard became general manager of the Canadian. But Snider was as if Savard wasn’t there.
“He made a lot of comments in connection with what I had said, but he never mentioned my name,” continued Savard.
“It was a dark period for the game. Before that, we saw a brawler team. In Montreal, we had John Ferguson. But here, it was made to four per team.
“To complicate the situation, the rules and regulations of the third man in a fight and the instigator did not exist. The guys were jumping over at the slightest opportunity. ”
It gave rise to fairs monumental.
“When we played matches preparatory to Boston and Philadelphia, we knew that a battle general was waiting for us,” recalls Savard.
“I said to prof Caron [who was the director of recruitment and assistant to the DG Sam Pollock] that he had to stop it and that it was in need of reinforcement. We called these meetings the Lions against the Christians.
“During one of these matches, it was presented at the Spectrum with our players the strongest of our club-school. Things have settled down after that. ”
Expansions too fast
According to Savard, the escalating violence was due to two reasons.
“The expansion is done too quickly,” he explains in a first time.
“The national League has expanded its executive officers from six to 12 teams a shot, and then to 14, 16 and 18. There were not enough talented players in Canada to provide all of the training.
“The Americans were starting to produce players. There were a few Swedes like Borje Salming and Inge Hammarstrom to Toronto and Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson in Winnipeg. ”
Note that the last two were the beginning in the world Association, which had a dozen teams at the beginning. This did nothing to improve the quality of the calibre.
“And the borders of the communist bloc countries like the soviet Union and the Tchécoslavaquie were closed,” recalls Savard.
The Czech Vaclav Nedomansky, first player on the communist regime to have a career in America (it has evolved, first in the WHA before joining the NHL), has deserted his country to achieve his dream.
The leaders guilty
In the second place, Savard accuses the rulers of that time.
“The national League has turned a blind eye and accepted that to happen “, does it.
“The battles and the skirmish, in particular, are subject to penalties since always. But it was tolerated. I remember a game at Vancouver in which Tiger Williams had retained Guy Lafleur on the 200 feet of the rink ! The players of a small class controlled the best players. ”
In the second game of the series, Guy Lafleur expresses his joy after scoring the goal that was to deliver the win to the Habs.
Savard said that at the time when he was DG, the directors-general discussed the application of the regulations each week.
“The discussions revolved around the interpretation of the regulations,” he said.
“It was always interpreted differently. One day, Jean Béliveau has asked me if they
Scotty Bowman tried to kill the hockey. I had reported his remarks to the directors general committee, which was chaired by Bob Pulford [who was with the Blackhawks of Chicago].
“I’ve never understood that fighting is tolerated in hockey. In football, players are expelled. It was the laugh of us. ”
After having swept the Flyers in four consecutive games, the players of the Canadian with head coach Scotty Bowman in the head are welcomed with great honors to the city hall of Montreal. It is the director of communications for the CH Claude Mouton, who has climbed the steps with the Cup.
Target of mockery
Hockey was perceived as a mixture of boxing and roller-derby in the United States. Rodney Dangerfield, a comedian from the us who has known its hours of glory in the decades 1970, 1980 and 1990, had a humorous look in hockey.
“The other night, I went to a program of boxing and this turned into a hockey game !” he said in his shows.
The movie Slap Shot made us laugh, but the image of hockey had taken for his cold. I’ve always wondered, moreover, why
Paul Newman had agreed to play the role of Reggie Dunlop.
The most punished 11 years in a row
The Flyers have been the team most penalized in the NHL between the seasons 1971-1972 and 1981-1982. During the season 1975-1976, which led to the first of four championships in consecutive by the Canadian, eight players of the Flyers have totaled at least 100 penalty minutes.
Of this number, three have spent more than 200 minutes in the dungeon, or Schultz with 307 minutes, André Dupont with 214 and Jack McIlhargey with 205 minutes.
Gary Dornhoefer and Andre Dupont, arriving in Montreal for the first two games of the series at the Forum. At the sight of the photographer for the Newspaper, the Moose, said in the colorful language that the Flyers will not take a bite out of the Canadian.
For the canadiens, Doug Risebrough was the only player to amass over 100 penalty minutes with 180. Larry Robinson would have exceeded this figure, had it not been 21 games missed due to injury. It grabbing 80 minutes in 59 meetings.
Mario Tremblay and Pierre Bouchard, who hesitated not to throw away the gloves, and passed through 88 and 50 minutes, respectively, to the penalty bench. In the case of Bouchard, I must say that Scotty Bowman did was not his name in the formation in all games.
“I’ve always said that the Flyers stole the two cups they have won,” said Savard.
Guy Lafleur ” The League has left them to cheat. It was a horror story. But in 1976, it was superior to the Flyers. Not only we were better, but what people don’t realize is that we were bigger also.
“When Larry Robinson is hit by Gary Dornhoefer against the tape in the second game of the series at the Forum, the shock has resonated throughout the stands. ”
Larry Robinson scored the first goal of the series in beat Wayne Stephenson to the chagrin of Ross Lonsberry.
A service operator technique had been sent on the ice to deliver the tape in place with blows of the hammer.
Time to understand
After his first retirement as a player, Savard has founded the League collegial AAA, which forbade the fights. But the message didn’t get through. Fairs and acts disgraceful continued in the NHL and in junior hockey.
“It took a long time before things start to change,” adds Savard.
“There are three or four years again, Gary Bettman said that the fights were a part of hockey. What are the legal proceedings in connection with the concussions, which have contributed to change things.
“Today, there is more room for the players without talent. ”