Just before the 1969-1970 season, team owner Ed Snider was fed up with the team being manhandled in the playoffs, and told his then-General Manager Bud Poile to acquire players to make the team bigger and stronger. Thus began the reign of the Broad Street Bullies, a group of players — with Bobby Clarke and Dave Schultz at the helm — who were not only big and tough, but skilled. And feared.
Now, that group is a legendary one, with two Stanley Cups to its name — the only two the Flyers have ever won. And the ‘Broad Street Bullies’ moniker still hangs over the team, though with personnel and league changes, there has not been a team like the Bullies since the Bullies.
That’s not to say that the grit was left on the Spectrum’s doorstep when the Bullies eventually dissipated. You had players like Rick Tocchet, Paul Holmgren, and Craig Berube in the 80s and Rod Brind’Amour, Shjon Podein, and Trent Klatt in the 90s to pick up where their predecessors left off.
And then there were the Flyers of recent years. Perhaps the best recent example of the Flyers’ style of play is the 2009-2010 team, captained by former Flyer Mike Richards.
After an up-and-down season that concluded with the team just barely making it into the playoffs, they made it all the way to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals thanks to their never-say-die attitude and determination. They made history by coming back from a 3-game deficit to win the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Boston.
As they made their way to the Finals, fans were constantly reminded of how much heart the team had, and though the playoffs did not end the way the team and the fans hoped, it was an incredible display of passion and doing whatever it took to reach the ultimate goal.
This current Flyers team is full of hard-hitting players who are willing to do whatever it takes to give their team a spark — players such as Zac Rinaldo, Wayne Simmonds, and Brayden Schenn. Whether it’s drawing a penalty against the other team, laying big hits on their opponents, or driving hard to the net, those guys are a new generation of Flyers hockey.
Though the team is no longer a bunch of Bullies, it still retains the same characteristics that will always describe Flyers hockey: toughness, tenacity, and determination. And though we sometimes only see that type of hockey in flashes these days, we know never to count the boys in orange and black out.