From The Bullies to The Bullied

November 28, 2023

When you think of Philadelphia sports, where does your mind go? Maybe you think of the Birds and the two Super Bowls we’ve been in within the past few years. Or maybe you think of the Phillies and last year’s World Series run and the excitement this year entailed. The sixers could also come to mind as they consistently find themselves in playoff contention and the chance to make a run. But the one team that may slip your mind is the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are Philadelphia’s NHL organization who in the past may have been the first team that would come to mind. The Flyers used to embody what it meant to be a Philadelphian and was a proud representation of the city. Within the past few years, the flyers have continued to fall down time and time again, leaving fans to have nothing to cheer for and no reason to represent the orange and the black. 

The Philadelphia Flyers were introduced to the NHL in 1967. The team was added as an expansion team when the league grew from the “Original Six”. It didn’t take too long for the team to make it mainstream and become a powerhouse in the NHL. The Flyers dominated in the years following their addition to the league and became a true threat in the 70’s. The Flyers went on to win NHL Championships in 1974 and 1975. This cemented the Flyers as a legit team with the ability to take over the league. With the dominance and pure brute of this Flyers team they were given the infamous name, The Broad Street Bullies. This era of Flyers hockey was the peak for the sport in the city of Philadelphia and lasted from 1971-1981. This included players such as Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, Bill Barber, Dave Shultz and Ed Van Impe. The team was stacked and many of these players developed a great name for themselves throughout this time. Players such as Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, and Bill Barber all have been inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame. But what happened after the Broad Street Bullies hung up their skates? 

Once the Flyers moved forward from their star players it was time to revamp the team and look for their new face of the organization, someone who can keep hockey alive in Philadelphia. The man to do so was there waiting in the 1991 NHL draft. It would all come down to the battle of the Rangers and the Flyers on who could propose the better trade to Quebec who had their eyes set on that same prize. In 1991 the Nordiques drafted Eric Lindros, a strong, brute force player. The perfect fit for a team coming off a run of seasons being known as the bullies of the league. The Flyers and Rangers had both proposed trades to the Nordiques who, in all honesty, scammed the Flyers in the long run for Lindros. But, with the Flyers having their new man on the ice they were able to grow around him and start something new the city could build comradery around. Alongside Lindros the Flyers also had John LeClair as well as Mikael Renberg. The line of Lindros(88), Renberg(18) and Bent Fedyk(8) was given the name “The Crazy Eights”. This line was stacked in power and skill. For this reason, this era of Flyers hockey was given the name, “The Legion of Doom”. Now, as threatening and star studded as this team was, the Legion of Doom only made one Stanely Cup Final which was in 1997. This is where the question of whether or not the Lindros trade was worth it as in that trade alone, they gave up, Mike Ricci, Rod Brind’Amour, Mark Recchi, Steve Duchesne, Ron Hextall, Dominic Roussel, multiple first-round draft picks, and $15 million. They sold their franchise future for a chance to build with one player and in the end got no Cups and only one appearance. The Flyers parted ways with Lindros in 2001 and it was onto the next generation of Flyers hockey to try and build it back up. 

The 2000-2010’s of Flyers hockey was a bunch of ups and downs as the team was fighting to find the identity that the team lived off in the past few decades. The main focus in this era were players such as Claude Giroux, Scottie Hartnell, James Van Riemsdyk, Daniel Briere, Wayne Simmons, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier. The Flyers did go on a solid run from 2008-2012 as they reached the playoffs in all of those seasons. This included the amazing run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010. Although, they did happen to lose in the final and made only the Semi-finals in the next two seasons to follow. Since that run they have only made the playoffs four times and have missed the playoffs the past three seasons. Infact the Flyers were becoming so forgotten that in September 2018 they announced their newest and most marketable face yet. Gritty, the new team mascot. Gritty was quickly seen all throughout sports talk shows and social media as his monster look was something for discussion. After a while though, Gritty became the biggest ting the Flyers had done in a long time. He was seen all over the sports world and the merchandise and promotions that were done with him made them lots of money. But besides Gritty, has the team managed to find ways to bring fans to the stands? 

Today the Flyers find themselves under new ownership and management as they are in a weird place as they have continued to sell off their top market players in the past few seasons. These include players such as Ivan Provorov, Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes. Many fans find themselves wanting the team to continue to sell and tank hoping that the future can provide better. With coach John Tortorella stating that he will not and that this team will compete. So far this season he has shown that as the team is competing well and providing entertaining hockey again. With a player like Travis Konecny and Owen Tippett providing offense and a player like Nicolas Deslauriers bringing the Philly toughness, it is safe to say this team won’t quit. They may not be the big bad bullies anymore, but this Flyers team is looking to scap their way to their previous thrown and bring that Philly grit back to the Wells Fargo Center. 


CJ Tully, WCUR

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