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A tough town deserves a hockey team that emulates that mentality on the ice. No team better embodies the spirit of their hometown than the Philadelphia Flyers. Famously branded (or infamously if you are a fan of another team) the Broad Street Bullies, the Flyers were a team that would beat you physically as well as on the scoreboard. Flyers hockey has a unique feel and today’s team still represents that fight on the ice each night.
The architect of the Philadelphia Flyers, Ed Snider, led the charge in bringing the expansion team to the City of Brotherly Love. Struggling to put together a talented team, the Flyers toughed out some rocky seasons at the onset, adding skilled players along the way and also players that weren’t afraid to get in the middle of a scrum and intimidate the competition.
The Flyers reputation for being a brutal opponent was soon known around the league and their games were especially dreaded by their rivals. Despite their ability to out-muscle their opponents, the Flyers were able to put together a strong game with players like Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, and Rick MacLeish leading the way to victory.
By the 1973-74 season, the Flyers were poised for a deep playoff run. A 50 win team in the regular season, Philadelphia breezed through the Atlanta Flames in the first round of the playoffs before winning a difficult seven game series against the New York Rangers. Reaching the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history, the Flyers went to work on the Boston Bruins. After losing in game one, the Flyers took game two in overtime and won two more, pushing Boston to the brink of elimination. The Bruins made a strong showing in game five, winning 5-1, but ultimately did not have enough left in the tank to force a game seven. The Flyers would win game six by a score of 1-0 to capture their first Stanley Cup Championship.
Eager to protect their championship title, the Flyers put up 51 wins in the 1974-75 season, again taking first place in their division. In a fashion similar to the year before, the Flyers swept the Maple Leafs in round one before advancing past the New York Islanders in a seven game semifinal. Defending the Cup against the Buffalo Sabres, the Flyers prevailed in six games to become back to back champions of hockey.
Four more Stanley Cup Finals appearances for the team would yield no more championships. The Flyers headed into the 2018-2019 season hungry for a third title. Despite great play over the years from some amazing stars in Philadelphia, the Cup drought continues.
Today’s team has been a little different from what Philly fans are used to seeing. A team in transition, the Flyers ownership was not happy with the progress they were seeing and relieved both general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol of their duties with the club. Chuck Fletcher was hired as the new general manager and appointed Scott Gordon as the interim head coach.
This young squad had been lacking much of the famous fighting spirit that put the Flyers on the map as coach Gordon works towards re-solidifying the team’s identity. While the bones are in place with pillars of the lineup in Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere (who recently signed a six year extension), and Ivan Provorov, there is a lot of work to be done in filling out the rest of the roster. Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, and Nolan Patrick also play large roles for this team. A healthy Brian Elliott to put between the pipes was expected to be a big help this year, but an early injury has sidelined him. The Flyers ended up playing many goalies before settling on the young Carter Hart. This team responded with Hart in net and has jumped in the standings. Picking up James Van Riemsdyk for a second stint in Philly this offseason may be vitally important. Van Riemsdyk is a solid player who spent the early seasons of his career with the Flyers. A five year contract worth $35 million will incentivize him to help lead this group and bring even more toughness to the squad. Philadelphia made a tough call at the trade deadline, moving fan favorite Wayne Simmonds to Nashville in exchange for Ryan Hartman and a conditional draft pick.
Earning a playoff berth with a record of 42-26-14 last season, the Flyers were eliminated in the first round by Pittsburgh. They are hard at work in Philadelphia again, while paying homage to legends of the past including Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, Bill Barber, Mark Howe, Eric Lindros, Brian Propp, Ron Hextall, John LeClair, and Rick MacLeish. Click here for more information about the Philadelphia Flyers.