Formed in 1967, the Philadelphia Flyers were able to quickly establish a winning legacy that has persisted to this day. In their early history, it took just 7 years for the Flyers to go from lowly expansion team to lifting the Stanley Cup! Known as the “Broad Street Bullies” for their physical and dominating style of play during this time, they were feared and revered throughout the league. Though they repeated as NHL champions the following season they have not won the title ever since. Nevertheless, they have had one of the most impressive records overall and remain as one of the league’s best teams.
But in the expansion draft of 1967, the Flyers were scrambling just to put together a team capable of playing in the NHL. Eventually a squad was built containing Lou Angotti, Gary Dornhoefer, Leon Rochefort, and Ed Hoekstra. While they were generally a losing side throughout the 60’s, Philadelphia did usually manage to reach to playoffs, where they achieved little.
But in 1969, the team drafted two players that would be key to their future success: Hockey Hall of Fame center Bobby Clarke and brutal left wing enforcer Dave Schultz, who was accurately nicknamed, “The Hammer”. With Clarke’s offensive production and Schultz vicious physicality, the Flyers quickly grew in strength.
By 1973 they had won their first playoff series over the Minnesota North Stars and were bolstered by guys like Rick MacLeish, Bill Barber, and Bill Flett. Then in 1974, the Flyers brought back goaltender Bernie Parent and finished top of the West Division with 112 points. In the playoffs they swept the Atlanta Flames, conquered their rivals the New York Rangers in 7 games, and won the Stanley Cup over the Boston Bruins!
The following season the Flyers got even better with the addition of Reggie Leach, a young prospect who blossomed in Philadelphia. They bested their previous points total to 113 and powered their way through the NHL Playoffs to a second straight title, even persevering through the infamous “Fog Game” they lost against the Buffalo Sabres.
Though they earned 118 points the following season, the Flyers were defeated in the Stanley Cup Finals by the Montreal Canadiens in a sweep. While knocked off their perch, Philadelphia would remain a great team, especially with Clarke staying with the team until his retirement in 1984.
The following season the Flyers made another run to the Stanley Cup Finals with Time Kerr and Brian Propp but they fell short again, this time to the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers. Several times since then the Flyers have fallen in the Finals, most recently in 2010 to the Chicago Blackhawks.
That season Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were key players, though they have since been traded away. However, a new star has taken the reigns of this club. Team captain Claude Giroux now represents the future hope for the Philadelphia Flyers. Additionally, solid NHL players like Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, and goaltender Steve Mason make a strong core for the Flyers. Continuing to produce winning seasons and often doing well in the NHL Playoffs, I suspect that Philadelphia may soon be celebrating another Stanley Cup title success!
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