The Philadelphia Flyers had nothing of a development team when they became the Broad Street Bullies. They relied on star players such as Bobby Clarke, Bernard Parent, Bill Barber and Reggie Leach. They were counting on other players of good calibre such as Rick MacLeish, Gary Dornhoefer, Orest Kindrachuk, Ross Lonsberry and Tom Bladon.
Clarke was awarded the Hart trophy as the most valuable player to his team three times. He has had three seasons of over 100 points.
Parent won the trophies (the Vezina and Conn Smythe when the Flyers have won the Stanley cup in 1974 and 1975.
Barber was scoring regularly over 30 goals per season. During the season 1975-1976, he has reached the milestone of 50 goals during that Leach into part 61.
Captain of the Flyers, Bobby Clarke has always preached by example.
In his role of defender, Bladon made a valued contribution to the offensive.
Why this style then ?
Collectively, the Flyers have made six seasons of over 100 points in seven years, between seasons 1973-1974 and 1979-1980.
Why felt they the need to practice a style that focuses on a harsh excess in order to win ?
Clarke takes a few seconds of reflection, as it does for any other questions that are asked.
“The question is interesting when we look at the components of our training of the time, he says, from his home in Sarasota, on the west coast of Florida.
“Barber, Leach and me, we were fighting not. Yes, I have been involved in a few fights, but it was more of a skirmish. ”
The players who have fought you will say, however, that he was an artist of the stick.
“MacLeish doesn get pounded’t, Lonsberry no more, Dornhoefer, not Kindrachuk, or Bill Clement, continues Clarke.
“Even the defence, Ed Van Impe, both Watson (Joe and Jim) and Brent Hughes only threw not the gloves.
“Dave Schultz, Bob Kelly and Moose Dupont were fighting often. Don Saleski was doing it to the occasion. We had four players who engaged in fights, but it was the same in other teams. The Canadian had probably as much as we do. ”
Pierre Bouchard, Rick Chartraw and Gilles Lupien were the police service. But Larry Robinson, Doug Risebrough and Mario Tremblay were not the kind to run away from the fight either.
The players of the Flyers celebrate a goal by Dave Schultz in the second game of the finals presented in the Forum.
Everyone wanted to see
It was part of the culture of hockey. But for Serge Savard and others, it was too much. It was not his place.
Savard hated Clarke to confess when the latter is brought into the national League, in 1969. The two men have learned to know over time, especially when they were general managers. They are good friends since a long time.
“Serge has opinions on the way the Flyers played in the time and it is correct, Clarke said.
“But he forgets that, for three years, tickets for the matches of the Flyers, both abroad and in Philadelphia, to be sold until depletion. Serge will not may not be what I’m going to say, but we were important in the hockey.
“It is clear that our opponents didn’t like us, but we were good for our sport. We have been raising the interest and we filled out all the lecture halls where it was.
“All the leagues and players of the time played like that. ”
Biggest crowd in the history of the Forum
It is true.
The biggest crowd for a hockey game at the Forum was recorded on January 7, 1974 when a clash between the Flyers and the Canadian. A room of 19 040 spectators had seen the tri-color triumph over 2 to 1.
Four months later, the Flyers won their first Stanley cup defeating the Big Bad Bruins in six games. Bernard Parent was extraordinary.
Only God makes more saves than Bernie ! was felt to Philadelphia.
Bobby Clarke recognizes that the Canadian, 1976, guided by the captain Yvan Cournoyer was higher than the Flyers.
The Canadian was higher
Two years later, the Canadian détrônait the Flyers as the champion of the national League.
“The Canadian was simply superior, believes Clarke.
“We were up to a third final in a row. It consumes a lot of energy with time. Parent and MacLeish were injured, but the Canadian was part of a great team. Guy Lafleur became Guy Lafleur. It was amazing !
“Canada was better than us and had won, as it should have been. ”
The fact remains that the first three games had resulted in the margin of a goal. The Habs swept the series with a victory by two goals in the fourth match.
The question is hypothetical, but the outcome would have been any different if Parent and MacLeish had been of the party ?
“The series would have been more tight, it would not have ended in a sweep, think of Clarke.
“But I still say that the Canadian, us was superior. A goalie can win a series, but I don’t know if Bernard would have been able to do so.
“Leach was a really good player and his absence has weakened our offensive. Scotty Bowman used the one or the other of its two trios defensive against the one that I training with Barber and Leach. When this was not Doug Jarvis that I was opposed to it, it was Risebrough. Bowman did what he had to do.”
At the time of the six teams
Clarke agreed with Savard that the repeat expansions have contributed to diluting the product. But he adds that at a time when the NHL consisted of six teams, the four trios of each training were not formed only of players with great skills.
“The idea that the fights were less numerous is more or less true, adds Clarke.
“The Bruins, the Canadian and the Rangers were also there when the national League proceeded to the great expansion to add six teams in 1967). ”
Cut near the right eye, Bobby Clarke was a true warrior in the heat of the action
It is in these years that the Flyers have taken on the challenge of robustness. During a game of the series in 1968, the Sorelois original Claude Laforge, who was five feet eight inches and 160 pounds, suffered a punch from behind Christmas Picard, defender of the Blues from Saint Louis, who was six feet one inch tall and weighed 205 pounds.
A short video of the incident can be seen on YouTube. Laforge suffers a fracture of the cheek.
It is at this point that the owner of the Flyers, Ed Snider, decided that nobody abused physically his players.
The Blues were known as a team who used intimidation to achieve his ends.
“The brothers Plager (Barclay and Bob) and Picard were not angels,” recalls Clarke.
“Scotty Bowman (who directed the Blues) was also the offender that any other coach could be,” says he, laughing.
“It was then that the Flyers have changed. Schultz and Saleski were recovered at the same time as me, in 1969.
Two years later, the Flyers have drafted Kelly. The following year, they got André Dupont of the Blues. ”
Bob Gainey has trouble with Bobby Clarke under the gaze of defender Tom Bladon.
Shero was a winner
When the Flyers became the terrors of the NHL, their coach Fred Shero has been shown the finger by several people, including Serge Savard.
“Serge has probably never known Freddie, reacts Clarke.
“Freddie has won at all levels, whether in the international League (the Saints of Saint Paul), the american League (Buffalo Buffalo), the League central (Knights of Omaha) and the national League (the Flyers).
“He was a quiet man who only preached absolutely not violence. He never brought the subject on the carpet. “