The Flyers Won Their Most Recent Stanley Cup 40 Years Ago Today
Forty years ago today, the Philadelphia Flyers won their most recent Stanley Cup.
It was an incredible run for the franchise not 10 years after it was founded. The Flyers had won a Cup in just their seventh season, then followed it up with a second championship in their eighth. The Broad Street Bullies are still the fastest expansion team to win a Stanley Cup in NHL history.
That nickname was well earned — the Flyers teams hit hard, fought often and were loathed by a lot of hockey fans. it was by design. Owner Ed Snider didn’t like seeing the Flyers get pushed around in playoff series losses early in the team’s history. He instructed general manager Keith Allen to draft players who wouldn’t get pushed around.
“That was our modus operandi,” Snider told The Hockey News last year. “We didn’t get beat up anymore. I didn’t invent fighting in hockey, and I don’t necessarily love it. I’m just saying I don’t want anybody to kick the shit out of a Flyer ever again.”
Snider’s tactic worked. Things were magical for several seasons: Bobby Clarke won a pair of Hart Trophies as league MVP. Bernie Parent was outstanding in next for several seasons. Fred Shero, hired after a long minor league career as a player and later as a coach in the Rangers organization, led the team to five straight seasons with 105 points or more.
The Flyers regime was innovative in ways other than just assembling a team of goons. Longtime Flyers beat writer Tim Panaccio summarized Shero’s accomplishments in a 2009 article: “Four Stanley Cup Final appearances; two Cups; first coach to employ systems; first to hire assistant coaches; first to employ in-season strength training; first to break down film; first to travel abroad to study Soviet influences; among the first to adopt morning skates.”
It was a fun time to be a Flyers fans. Even the stories of fans were wild back then. Once, members of the St. Louis Blues fought fans. Frank Rizzo ordered four members of the Blues (and their coach) arrested.
Of course, the Flyers haven’t had the same success since. That Cup in 1975 remains their most recent. The Flyers, once a team with 8 seasons and 2 Cups, now have the second-longest drought among teams that have won it. (Toronto hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967. But at least the Flyers aren’t the Blues, who entered the league the same year as the Flyers and haven’t yet won a Cup.) There’s even a snarky Twitter account about it.
Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the Flyers last Stanley Cup victory. What should we do to celebrate?
— SinceFlyersLastCup (@SinceFlyersCup) May 26, 2015
Inquirer Flyers writer Sam Carchidi interviewed Flyers alumni who are “stunned” the drought has now reached 40 years. The Flyers have been criticized by some for failing to adapt to the modern NHL. Somehow, 40 years on, the Flyers still have a reputation for goonery — tactics that, due to rule changes, don’t win as many hockey games as they used to.
Then again, maybe things are changing. The Flyers didn’t break camp with a designated fighter on the squad last season. The team recently hired University of North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol, which was viewed as unconventional for two reasons: One, college coaches don’t normally make the jump straight to the NHL. And two, the Flyers tend to hire someone who’s already worked for them before — it’s even become a running gag.
So maybe it’s a new era of Flyers hockey. In the meantime, with the Flyers not even sniffing the playoffs this season, we can savor the fact that 40 years ago today they were on top of the hockey world.
Follow @dhm on Twitter.