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A brief history: Philadelphia Flyers

by Michael Stainkamp
The Philadelphia Flyers joined the NHL in 1967 as part of the first wave of expansion beyond the Original Six. The Flyers won their home debut in front of 7,812 fans, shutting out their in-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 19, 1967. In their first season, the Flyers finished first in the new Western Division but were upset by the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs.

The Flyers saw some success over the next few years, but it wasn't until the mid-1970s that they made their mark on the NHL. The team got the nickname the "Broad Street Bullies" after a win over the Atlanta Flames in which brawls broke out numerous times throughout the game. Two writers are credited with coining the nickname: Jack Chevalier and Pete Cafone of the Philadelphia Bulletin.

Dave Schultz led the team with 348 penalty minutes during the 1973-74 season as the team won the West Division. During the season, Ed Snider decided to change up the pregame song from "The Star-Spangled Banner" to "God Bless America," performed by Kate Smith. The song has remained a good-luck charm for the Flyers ever since.

The Flyers beat the Flames in round one, went seven games and won against the Rangers in the second round and faced Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. The Flyers beat the Bruins in six games to become the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup. Before Game 6, Smith sang "God Bless America" in person. Many fans think this inspired the Flyers to go out and bring the Cup to Philadelphia.

Schultz again led the way physically during the 1974-75 season with an NHL-record 472 penalty minutes. The Flyers finished with the best record in the League. After a first-round bye, the Flyers swept the Toronto Maple Leafs and beat the New York Islanders in seven games to advance to the Cup Final.

The Flyers faced the Buffalo Sabres in the Final and the two teams played in what has become known as "The Fog Game." Game 3 was played in an unusual heat wave in Buffalo and because Memorial Auditorium didn't have air conditioning, fog covered the ice during parts of the game. The Flyers lost that game but went on to win the series in six for their second straight Cup, and goaltender Bernie Parent won his second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Flyers lost to Montreal in their bid for a third consecutive Cup in 1976 and were beaten by the Islanders in the 1980 Final after finishing first in the overall standings and setting a League record with a 35-game unbeaten streak. They also lost the Final in 1985, 1987, 1997 and 2010 (after a stunning playoff run), but have established themselves as one of the NHL's most successful franchises on and off the ice.

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