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Former Flyers quartet becoming U.S. citizens

by Mike G. Morreale
As teammates on the Broad Street Bullies-era Philadelphia Flyers, Bob Kelly, Orest Kindrachuk, Bill Clement and Dave Schultz knew all about the colors black and blue.

By the end of the year, however, they can take great pride in the fact red, white and blue will become a definitive color scheme in their lives when they take the necessary steps to fulfilling their obligation in becoming U.S. citizens. Kelly and Kindrachuk correctly answered all six questions asked of them on the citizenship exam and are set to be sworn in Sept. 17 at the Mount Holly, N.J. board offices.

Clement and Schultz have completed the fingerprinting stage and next will schedule their oral examinations before having the opportunity to raise their right hands and take the citizenship oath.

"I have appreciated everything I've had in the United States and the opportunity I received, so it was time." -- Bob Kelly

For Kelly, who has a U.S.-born wife and three U.S.-born children, it only made sense to become an American citizen after living in the States the last 40 years.

"I have appreciated everything I've had in the United States and the opportunity I received, so it was time," Kelly, born in Oakville, Ont., told "It was funny because at the end of the (citizenship exam), the guy asks me if I would bear arms and I said, 'Absolutely, just tell me where to go and I'll sign up for that.'"

Of course, Kelly and his teammates were locked and loaded, fists cocked, each time they stepped on the ice en route to winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 1974 and '75. He considers it a privilege to be joining three of his teammates in becoming American citizens at the same time.

"It's neat," Kelly said. "(Bob) Clarke and Bill Barber have done it, but doing it together with Bill (Clement), Shultzie and Chuck (Kindrachuk) is special. It was kind of the way we worked as teammates in the '70s -- when one guy did something, the next just followed suit."

Said Clement: "It's nice we're becoming U.S. citizens together; it's kind of what we stood for as teammates on the ice. We did things together like win Stanley Cups and socialize, so it made a lot of sense when the idea was floated that a number of us do it at the same time."

Upon passing his oral exam at the immigration department, during which he had to answer correctly at least six of the 10 questions, Kelly returned home to balloons, American flags and a congratulatory cake -- courtesy of family and friends.

"(Kindrachuk) and I studied up on a lot of American history and we both got the first six questions correct, so we were pretty proud of that," Kelly said. "I just wanted to make sure everything was clean and done. I'm proud to be an American and happy to do what I need to do to become one."

The four Flyers were encouraged to start the citizenship process this year by former teammate Bob Dailey and Bob Brady, a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania.

"We received an e-mail from Bob Dailey one day suggesting that Bob Brady's office would be willing to help with the paperwork and the application and his office was extremely helpful," Clement told "I've made the U.S. my home since I was a 20-year-old coming to play, so almost all of my adult life has been spent in the U.S. -- it's home, and as long as it's home, it's the right thing to do.

"If I can talk (American) politics with people, I should at least be able to vote. Sometimes those debates seem rather farcical coming from me when I don't even have the right to vote."

Clement was born in Buckingham, Que., but his hometown is Thurso, a French-speaking city in the province located along the Ottawa River. In fact, he grew up two blocks from Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur and played hockey with him as a kid.

"There are streets named after us in our hometown, Bill Clement Street and Guy Lafleur Street, so I'm hoping that the news in the change in citizenship doesn't mean I'll have to tear down the street sign," Clement said.

Schultz epitomized the image of Philadelphia toughness as he never wavered in his desire to drop the gloves and participate in a slugfest, to the delight of the hometown faithful. He still holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a season (472 in 1974-75), and led the League in penalty minutes three other times over a career that spanned nine seasons, and also included time with the Kings, Penguins and Sabres.

Schultz was relieved when he learned a background check wouldn't be held against him.

"No, thank God," he told the Associated Press. "That can't count against me."

Kindrachuk, who scored 118 goals in a 10-year career, and Schultz each will maintain duel citizenship.

"I just know I'm going to end up a U.S. citizen with a U.S. passport," Clement, the father of four, said. "Whether I'm dual or not, it doesn't matter. If I'm willing to become an American citizen, I would do it if I had to forsake my Canadian citizenship or not. I plan on staying in the U.S. for the rest of my life, so it was time that I made it happen."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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