The last Philadelphia team to win the Stanley Cup used players nicknamed The Hammer and Mad Dog.
The coach was so confusing for some reporters to decipher that they called him Freddie The Fog, which brings to mind the night the 1975 Flyers played a championship series game in fog so thick spectators couldn’t see the puck.
Oh, and one player killed an animal during a game.
Think the 2010 Flyers are colourful? They make one yawn when thoughts turn to The Broad Street Bullies of 35 years ago. They were led to a second straight title by gap-toothed captain Bobby Clarke, they had all-world goalie Bernie Parent in the nets, and they were the last Stanley Cup champions with an entirely Canadian lineup.
Dave (The Hammer) Schultz was the king of mayhem during a 51-win regular season, piling up a still-record 472 penalty minutes, and the playoffs ended with Bob (Mad Dog) Kelly showing by slipping in the franchise’s last Cup-winning goal that he could do more than fight.
The Flyers, with GM Keith Allen overseeing things, had bashed their way to the top. If people wanted to see fancy skating, coach Fred Shero advised, they should go to the Ice Capades. Chris Pronger would have been a choirboy had he been born into dastardly defenceman Andre (Moose) Dupont’s Church of Hockey.
Philadelphia opened the 1975 championship series with a 4-1 home win over Buffalo. Bill Barber beat Sabres goalie Gerry Desjardins twice, and the Flyers were on their way.
“Too much Parent and Clarke,” GM Punch Imlach replied when asked why his Sabres lost.
Clarke fed Reggie (The Rifle) Leach for a goal then potted the winner himself in a 2-1 win in Game 2. Buffalo’s French Connection of Gil Perreault, Rene Robert and Rich Martin had been shut down. Now it was off to Buffalo and strange happenings.
A bat flitted around inside the now-demolished Aud and with players awaiting a faceoff during a stoppage in play Sabres forward Jim Lorentz batted it out of the air. The Flyers’ Rick MacLeish picked up the battered bat and disposed of it over the boards.
The Flyers were up 3-2 after one period and Roger Crozier was sent in to replace Desjardins. The move got the Sabres going but it was hard to see them. The Aud had no air conditioning and it was a hot May day. Fog began to rise from the ice. The puck became invisible. Play was stopped more than 10 times while the players skated around to dissipate it.
With the score 4-4 in overtime, Perreault took a long shot. Parent couldn’t see the puck in the fog. It missed the net. Robert, dashing down a wing, spotted the carom coming off the back boards and shot from a bad angle. The puck went through Parent’s legs at 18:29.
The Sabres then tied the series with a 4-2 win with Desjardins back in goal. Lorentz popped in the winning shot at 15:07 of the second period. There were two fights in the second. Rick Dudley punched out Kelly and Schultz manhandled Jim Schoenfeld. The game was halted twice in the third so five pairs of arena staffers could dash around the ice carrying bedsheets to clear the fog.
The Flyers cruised to a 5-1 victory back home in Game 5. Gary Dornhoefer and Schultz beat Desjardins from bad angles and Kelly put one through his legs. Leach, on a power play, and Schultz’s second of the night put the Sabres away.
The Flyers improved to 44-3-1 when Kate Smith sang “God Bless America” or her recording of the song was played in the Spectrum.
On Tuesday, May 27, in Buffalo, it was 0-0 going into the third period when Shero moved Kelly up with Clarke and Leach. Clarke was taking a beating and the coaching staff wanted to change things up. Just 11 seconds into the third, Kelly scored his wraparound Cup clincher on Crozier, who’d been given the start on a hunch by Sabres coach Floyd Smith. Bill Clement added the insurance goal in the 2-0 win.
“We did it in the other guy’s rink and proved beyond a doubt we are the best,” said Clarke.
“They were just too good,” Smith said. “The difference was experience. Our inexperience helped their great goalkeeper and their experience made it rough for our goalies.”
Parent, with four shutouts in 15 playoff games, was named MVP a second year in a row. MacLeish led in playoff points, 20, and goals, 11. Barber supplied six post-season goals and Clarke four.
Flyers forward Ross Lonsberry lauded Shero’s coaching.
“Freddy’s got the knack of keeping people motivated and happy even when they don’t play regularly,” he said. “He treats everybody the same.
“We’ve got stars all right, but not to Freddy. He demands the same from everybody and everybody knows he’ll get a fair deal when his turn comes.”
Shero died in 1990 of stomach cancer at age 65.
Only Parent, Clarke and Barber from the ’75 team have made it into the Hockey Hall of Fame.