Philadelphia Flyers - Greatest Sports Franchises

The Philadelphia Flyers were the first Expansion Era club to win a Stanley Cup. But even before that, the team solidified their reputation as the Broad Street Bullies for their rough and tough style of play. Since then, players like Bobby Clarke, Eric Lindros, Ron Hextall, and many more have worn the orange, black and white and have helped the team carve out a fascinating history. However, they have not been without their struggles. In this video, WatchMojo.com continues our series on the Greatest Sports Franchises of All Time with a look at the Philadelphia Flyers.
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The History of the Philadelphia Flyers


This was the first Expansion Era club to win a Stanley Cup. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be continuing our series of the most successful sports franchises with a look at the Philadelphia Flyers.

Early Days


The Flyers entered the NHL in 1967 as part of the league’s expansion. Basketball exec Ed Snider jumped at the chance of team ownership when he saw that Boston Bruins fans lined up to buy tickets, despite the club’s last-place standing.

Team Nucleus


Expansion rules restricted the team to a mish-mash of older players and minor-leaguers. Bernie Parent, Ed Van Impe, Joe Watson and Gary Dornhoefer helped form the team’s nucleus.

Bobby Clarke


In 1969, the Flyers drafted a 19-year-old diabetic from small-town Manitoba 17th overall. Bobby Clarke became the team’s best player, and by ’72-’73 they celebrated their first winning season with him as captain. Rick MacLeish became the first Flyer to score 50 goals in one year.

First Stanley Cup Win


The next season, Philly defeated Bobby Orr’s Bruins to win their first Stanley Cup. Goalie Bernie Parent led the way to a 50-16-12 record, while enforcer Dave Schultz’s 348 penalty minutes cemented the Flyers’ reputation.

Second Cup Win


In 1974-75 the Flyers defended their title by beating the Buffalo Sabres. Parent won a second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy and grabbed MVP honors.

The LCB Line


The Flyers followed that by recording the most points by any team, on the strength of the LCB line. Reggie Leach, Clarke and Bill Barber terrorized the NHL with 141 goals.

Philly vs. the USSR


On January 11th, 1976, the Flyers handed the Soviet Union’s Central Red Army team its only loss during that year’s Super Series in a controversial game. However, the Flyers lost the Cup to a dominant Montreal Canadiens squad.

Clarke as Assistant Coach


In 1979-80, Clarke was named a playing assistant coach, and Mel Bridgman became captain. The team then set a record for all North American professional sports teams by going 35 straight games without a loss – 25 wins and 10 ties.

Clarke Retires


Clarke retired in 1984 and became Vice President and General Manager. Meanwhile, Mike Keenan was hired as coach. Rookie goalie Pelle Lindhbergh took home the Vezina Trophy, and the Flyers themselves won a franchise-record 53 games. However, they lost to another dynasty-in-the-making, the Edmonton Oilers.

Death of Pelle Lindbergh


Tragedy struck in’85-’86 when Lindbergh died in a car crash. Bob Froese took over netminding duties, and shared the William M. Jennings Trophy with teammate Darren Jensen for allowing the least goals during the season.

Ron Hextall


The next year, the mercurial Ron Hextall became the third Flyers goalie to win the Vezina Trophy in his rookie season. The Flyers eliminated defending Cup champs Montreal in a heated playoff series, but lost to the Oilers again. Hextall made MVP, and this marked the second time a Flyer won the Conn Smythe despite being on the losing team.

Eric Lindros


A new era began when the team won an arbitration battle for 1991’s number one overall pick: Eric Lindros. However to do it, Philly parted with players like Hextall and future star Peter Forsberg, in addition to $15 million. The Nordiques took these gains and won two Stanley Cups as the Colorado Avalanche.

Lindros’ Career


The Flyers didn’t fare as well. But Lindros did dominate with help from Marc Recchi and Brent Fedyk on the Crazy Eights line, and then on the Legion of Doom line with John LeClair and Michael Renberg. But it wasn’t enough.

Big Names


Later, the club brought on many big-name players through trades and drafting: Danny Briere, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter all played important roles. But their Achilles heel remained between the pipes.

Traditions


Like most teams, Philly had traditions. A notable one began December 11th, 1969 when the team played a recording of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” in place of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Because of the ongoing Vietnam War, some fans walked out during the anthem, so this replacement caught on and stuck.

Legacy


With their reputation as the Broad Street Bullies, their fervent fans and the second-best all-time points percentage, the Flyers remain one of the greatest franchises in sports history.
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