"We were a team geared to be mostly on the defensive side and what turned the Flyers (into the Broad Street Bullies) was a series we lost to St. Louis (in four games in 1968-69). They had tough, skilled players and Snider wanted his team to resemble that type of team. He vowed never to be pushed around again like that in a playoff series and that's when we began our march."
-- Bernie Parent
-- Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Bernie Parent
talked goalie masks, Stanley Cup titles and playing outdoors during Thursday's edition of NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman on NHL.com and Sirius XM Radio.
Parent, who played the majority of his 13 NHL seasons for the Philadelphia Flyers
, also manned the cage for the Boston Bruins
and Toronto Maple Leafs
alongside another Hockey Hall of Famer, Jacques Plante
, his childhood idol.
For Parent, having the opportunity to live out his dream of playing in the Stanley Cup Final was something he'll cherish for the rest of his life.
"As a goalie, it was a challenge to read the plays and figure out whether a skater coming down was left-handed or right-handed but, as a little kid, I always dreamed of playing in the Stanley Cup and playing for a winning team and eventually it became a reality," Parent told Commissioner Bettman.
But before winning the Cup, Parent certainly paid some dues.
"At first, I was disappointed (when he was selected in the 1967 expansion draft by the Flyers) because I was a member of an Original Six team (Boston); it felt a little weird," Parent said. "But then little did I know, seven years later, I'd be a member of a Stanley Cup champion. Our leader, Ed Snider, then surrounded himself with great hockey people and players and that was big.
"We were a team geared to be mostly on the defensive side and what turned the Flyers (into the Broad Street Bullies) was a series we lost to St. Louis (in four games in 1968-69)," Parent continued. "They had tough, skilled players and Snider wanted his team to resemble that type of team. He vowed never to be pushed around again like that in a playoff series and that's when we began our march."
Parent would capture two Stanley Cups with the Flyers, including the team's first-ever championship in 1974 following a memorable six-game triumph against the Bruins. Parent shut out the Bruins 1-0 in Game 6 at the Spectrum to win the Cup.
He'd win the Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy in 1974 and '75 -- a period in Flyers history when the bumper sticker "Only the Lord saves more than Bernie Parent
" became an instant catch-phrase in the City of Brotherly Love.
In addition to his successful championship run with the Flyers, Parent also had the opportunity to play with Plante for two seasons in Toronto (1970-71 and 1971-72).
"I'll never forget as a little kid, watching Hockey Night in Canada and the Canadiens were my team and Jacques was my favorite player," Parent said. "He was the first one to come out behind the net to stop the puck and first one to wear the mask. Those two years in Toronto with him changed my whole career -- I would watch him play and practice and I would go 'Wow.' He was like a machine and I learned so much."
Bettman asked Parent if he ever spoke to Plante about his decision to wear a mask and the challenges he faced. The 50th anniversary of Plante donning the first mask in League history, in fact, is Nov. 1.
"I talked to him," Parent said. "I was wearing a mask when I was 14. In those days, Jacques told me he did receive a lot of criticism but little did we know it would be accepted. It was a tremendous change but it turned out to be a blessing for all the goalies. I believe if you believe in yourself you must go forward and beautiful things will happen and that's what Jacques did."
In 1978-79, an errant stick inadvertently struck Parent's right eye behind his mask, causing permanent damage to his retina and forcing him to retire. He would be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984.
The Flyers and Bruins, who actually play Thursday (7 p.m. ET on NHL Network US, NESN, CSN-PH – all in HD) at Wachovia Center in the first of four meetings this season, will clash in the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day at Fenway Park. It's a game that Parent is looking forward to.
"I think it's exciting that Boston and Philly will be playing in the Winter Classic. These teams go back a lot of years and we're built almost the same way," Parent said. "Having this opportunity to go back and then play this game on January 1 at Fenway in Boston is going to be great. I'm really looking forward to that."
And what are the chances the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Final this season?
"I think (general manager) Paul Holmgren
has done a great job with the team with bringing in Chris Pronger
and Ray Emery
-- I love those guys," Parent said. "They have a shot to get to the promised land with those two pieces. It's going to be fun."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com