Ginny and I spent a pleasant hour Monday night watching the HBO documentary about the Philadelphia Flyers of the mid-seventies, the famous Broad Street Bullies, whose adventures Ginny and I much enjoyed. Indeed, some of the footage was a little like seeing home movies. The famous fog game in the Cup Finals in 1975? That was on the night of our college graduation. Game 5? Saw it at Francis Nathans’ house in Bucks County the day after we were married, the night the famous misdaventures of our wedding night. The Game 6 clincher? We saw it with Peter Westbrook at True Light Manor. And though the show caught some of what it was to root for the near-criminal Flyers, it somehow missed the essence: they were very brave, and they just never, ever, ever backed down. It’s true, as the program stated, that their heyday was pretty nearly over after the Montreal Canadiens swept the Flyers in the 1976 Finals (but as Bill Barber told me a few years later, the presence of the injured Bernie Parent would have rewritten the story.) But for me, their greatest moment came in Game 4 of a 1977 quarter-finale series. Trailing a very good Toronto Maple Leaf team two games to one, and behind in Game 4 by 5-2 with six minutes left, the Flyers rallied to tie on goals by Tom Bladon, Mel Bridgeman and the incredible Bobby Clarke, and won after 19 minutes of overtime on a slap shot by the cool, brilliant Reggie Leach. That was the Flyers I loved.
Bird, Hammer, Hound and Moose/The Broad Street Bullies Are on the Loose.
It’s one of the few poems I know by heart.