Monday, December 14, 2009

Why the Philadelphia Flyers Wear Orange Jerseys

Let us be up front with this right from the start.

We hate the Philadelphia Flyers.

Always have.

From their days as the Broad Street Bullies in our youth right up to today, we hate the Flyers.

From the time they punched, crosschecked and intimidated their way to the Stanley Cup Championship, we have detested the excessive intimidation and violence in hockey, the endless brawls and tedious scrums foisted on the great game of hockey by the goons in orange.

One guess as to which team the All-Time Single Season Penalty Minute Leader played for? Yep, The Philadelphia Flyers Dave Schultz set the record in 1974-75 with 472. That's nearly the equivalent of eight games spent in the penalty box and countless fights and fouls

A look at the annual NHL Penalty Minute Leaders in the 1970's reveals the following Flyers;

  • 1971-72 - #3 Gary Dornhoefer - 183 PIM's
  • 1972-73 - #1 Dave Schultz - 259, #2 Bob Kelly - 238, #4 Moose Dupont - 215, #5 Don Saleski - 205
  • 1973-74 - #1 Dave Schultz - 348, #4 Moose Dupont - 216
  • 1974-75 - #1 Dave Schultz - 472, #2 Moose Dupont - 276
  • 1975-76 - #3 Dave Schultz - 307, #7 Moose Dupont - 214, #8 Jack McIhargey - 205
  • 1977-78 - #5 Moose Dupont - 225, #7 Mel Bridgeman - 203. #10 Paul Holmgren - 190

Our Least Favorite Player of all time is Bobby Clarke, the criminal who broke Valeri Kharlamov's ankle in the 1972 Summit Series because he was too good of a player. Some describe him as "gritty and determined", but we think of him as the ringleader of a gang of thugs.

Our second Least Favorite Player of all time? Eric Lindros. Funny, another Flyer. This is the spoiled brat who thought he was bigger than the game and decided he was too good and too important to play for the team that drafted him first overall, the Quebec Nordiques, a stunt he had already pulled in junior hockey.

Fortunately the Nordiques were able to rob the Flyers blind and flip the over-hyped Lindros for Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, the beloved Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, two first-round draft picks (one of whom was Jocelyn Thibault, later included in the deal that brought the Avalanche Patrick Roy) and... $15 million! Oh yea, eight division titles and a pair of Stanley Cups for the Avalanche followed.

And what did the Flyers get in return? A four game sweep in the Flyers only Cup Finals appearance of Lindros' career, at the hands of the classy Steve Yzerman and the rest of the Detroit Red Wings, including all those Russians the Flyers refused to have anything to do with (one of our favorite Cup Finals ever, ever, ever) and drama and headaches as Lindros and his meddling family feuded with General Manager Bobby Clarke. Yes, the same ankle breaking Bobby Clarke from the Broad Street Bullies, who questioned Lindros' toughness and stripped him of his captaincy for criticizing team doctors.

Imagine that. Lindros feuding with Clarke. For us, that's like trying to decide between liver and brussel sprouts.

Third Least Favorite? That would be Jarkko Ruutu, who picks fights with Latvians and bites people. The thing I can't understand about him is why he ended up at the Western end of Pennsylvania with the Pittsburgh Penguins instead of in the East with the Flyers since he's a perfect fit for them.

Our fourth Least Favorite has got to be Ron Hextall. What a psycho that guy was. Perfect for the city he played in. In his first three seasons in the NHL, Hextall totalled 104, 104 and 113 penalty minutes - as a goaltender!

Hextall hold the records for Most Career Penalty Minutes by a Goaltender with 584, Most Single Season Penalty Minutes by a Goaltender with 113, Most Career Playoff Penalty Minutes by a Goaltender with 115 and Most Single Season Playoff Penalty Minutes by a Goaltender with 43. A clean sweep for a man born to be a Flyer.

Is it any wonder the current active penalty minute leader Donald Brasher spent time in Philadelphia?

Want more nonsense and mayhem? The record for the Most Penalty Minutes in a Single Game belongs to, you guessed it, the Ottawa Senators vs. the... Philadelphia Flyers with 419 minutes handed out on March 5, 2004 in a game held, naturally, in Philadelphia. Five separate brawls in the final two minutes and 16 players were ejected when, guess who, Donald Brashear started the brawling by going after the Senators Rob Ray. And the Flyers general manager at the time? Yes, predictably, Bobby Clarke.

Fast Forward to 2007-08. By now the Flyers have a new General Manager in the form of Paul Holmgren, he of the seven consecutive seasons with 168 penalty minutes or more, including 306 in 1980-81.

Before the season even begins, Steve Downie, once suspended five games in junior hockey for cross checking in the mouth and fighting a 16-year-old teammate for refusing to take part in a hazing ritual which involved standing naked in a cramped bathroom on the team bus, was suspended 20 games by the NHL for his repugnant flying hit to the head on Dean McAmmond in a pre-season game.

Then, Jessie Boulerice, another stellar Flyers draft pick, who was once charged with assault for a stick swinging incident in junior hockey, received a 25 game suspension for crosschecking Ryan Kesler square in the face, the second longest suspension in league history.

This season the Flyers continue continue a pair of tradtions. The Team Where Goalies Careers Go To Die™ decided to put their trust and faith in Ray Emery, a goaltender who would rather be a boxer and a player so unstable he had to spend a year in exile in Russia. Or perhaps he's so unstable that he's now spending a year in exile in Philadelphia...

Which brings us to Daniel Carcillo, who was suspended four games for his recent sucker punch on Matt Bradley. Gross Misconduct Hockey said it better than we ever could.

Carcillo received a five-minute major for fighting, a two-minute instigator penalty (duh) and a two-minute minor for cross-checking. That’s a pretty hefty effort, especially when Matt Bradley picked up nothing… Since all he did was body check Daniel Carcillo cleanly. Carcillo also got spanked by the Wheel of Justice to the tune of four games, a number that somewhat makes sense because Carcillo is a rather notorious character at this point.

I get that it’s Carcillo’s job to fight and inspire his teammates and certainly that kind of play isn’t exactly frowned upon in Philadelphia but Carcillo is developing a bit of a habit of not choosing his moments wisely. Take a look at the playoffs last season where he decided to fight Pittsburgh’s Maxime Talbot and managed to not only inspire the Penguins but also the entirety of the Pittsburgh fan base. That kind of stuff is not what you’re paid to do if you’re Dan Carcillo.

I will say that my friends and I were initially amazed and impressed with Carcillo’s ability to consistently find his way to the penalty box and act out like an “old school” goon and while I’m not about to speak for them here, Carcillo isn’t from the same class of goon as those legends from the 80s and 90s. He’s a different sort of creature, perhaps a guy who came along 10-15 years too late, but it’s tough to even make that assessment about him because he plays the game with such little respect for others on the ice.

Let’s face it, Matt Bradley was about another five seconds away from dropping the gloves with him and indulging his wont to fight… but he didn’t wait and cold-cocked him instead. Much like Officer Farva from the movie “Super Troopers” Dan Carcillo’s shenanigans are cruel and tragic and above all else, ill-timed. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren can talk all he wants about how he disagrees with Carcillo’s suspension and there are some intriguing arguments to be found as to why it’s “too much” but the Flyers knew exactly what they were getting when they brought him aboard and to be surprised at all that he does things like this or to get kid glove treatment from the league is just completely stupid.

Perhaps someday the Flyers will get their act together and stop appeasing the meathead part of their fanbase and outfitting the team with more goons than talent but as long as Bobby Clarke’s shadow looms around the organization, the Broad Street Bullies image is going to be impossible to shake. Would Carcillo have fit in well with Dave Schultz and Bobby Clarke in the 70s? Absofrigginlutely. In today’s NHL though… Carcillo is a man out of his element and comes off more like a clown than an intimidator.

And now you know why the Philadelphia Flyers wear orange.


  1. Well done. I can't resist adding a bit of trivia, from The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror IV." (Thanks to the Society for International Hockey Research's website.)

    From the Wikipedia entry for the show (Homer accidentally sells his soul for a donut, and has a trial with the devil to get it back.): The "jury of the damned" at Homer's trial "consists of John Wilkes Booth, Lizzie Borden, John Dilinger, Blackbeard, Benedict Arnold, the starting lineup o the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers, and Richard Nixon."

    I was a kid in Iowa when that first aired and didn't get the joke then...

  2. Thanks. That was 35 years of hatred let out in one cathartic go. It was long overdue. I've even avoided picking talented Flyers for my fantasy hockey team just because it wouldn't feel right feeling happy about them doing good.

    From Clarke to Holmgren and 35 years without a championship, it's a team in need of a serious change in culture, but as Gross Misconduct Hockey points out, their fans may never allow it.

    I love the Simpson's reference to the Broad Street Bullies. That's just classic.

  3. Okay... The Flyers to get away with A LOT, and this coming from a die-hard Flyers fan who's favorite players of all time are Schultz and Carcillo, but anyways other teams get away with just as much. The only reason Flyers piss people off is because they do it because they just love to hurt people. GO FLYERS!!!

  4. Really? wow i just don't even know what to say to this... This had to be written by a french canadian. I'm so tired of the bashing on the flyers... its like everyone has a target on them because they have a different style of play. I personally love the rough play, Id rather see that then Crosby being praised for everyfrickingthing he does... And although hextall had a temper tantrum every now and again doesn't mean he wasn't one of the best goalies. Gretsky even said that Hextall was one of the hardest goalies to score on.... I mean if you want to talk about over rated teams look at the Pens the entire nhl has their head up crosby's butt and everything he does is a godsend when in actuality they are a beatable team..


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