Broad Street Bullies Era Flyers named fourth 'most hated' sports team of all-time

bobbyclarke7475.jpgFalling behind two reviled creations of football coach Jimmy Johnson (the Miami Hurricanes and the Dallas Cowboys) along with the “Bad Boys” era Detroit Pistons, Sports Illustrated named the Broad Street Bullies the fourth “most hated” sports team of all-time. (Eh, I think this is a case of bigger sports getting the nod because the Pistons were basically a diluted hardwood version of the Bullies but that’s another discussion for another time.)

While I’m not totally convinced that the team was “the first to use intimidation as a tactic” in a brutal and bloody sport with as long a history as hockey, there’s little doubt that the Flyers’ glory era was a gory era. They scared (and beat) the bejesus out of other teams on their way to two consecutive Stanley Cups. Take a look at a portion of SI’s write-up.

Urged by coach Fred Shero to “take the shortest route to the puck carrier and arrive in ill humor,” rugged enforcers like Dave (The Hammer) Schultz (pictured), Bob (Hound) Kelly, Don (Big Bird) Saleski and Andre (Moose) Dupont racked up penalty minutes in record quantities while clearing the way for skill players like Reggie Leach, Bill Barber and three-time NHL MVP Bobby Clarke.

They were nicknamed by Jack Chevalier and Pete Cafone of the Philadelphia Bulletin, who wrote in 1973 that “the image of the fightin’ Flyers is spreading gradually around the NHL, and people are dreaming up wild nicknames. They’re the Mean Machine, the Bullies of Broad Street and Freddy’s Philistines.” The Flyers captured back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and ’75 and remained one of the league’s biggest road draws for years to come, but many traditionalists contend their legacy was corruptive on hockey.

The fantastic HBO documentary revealed just how beloved the team was in Philadelphia, which makes sense since you could argue that the team still leans toward knuckleheads and knuckle-chuckers to fill out some of their ranks. For a while, I thought that enforcers were going the way of the dodo but the Atlantic division in particular seems to defy that trend.

This list also made me wonder: does the NHL have a truly “hated” team? People despise the Detroit Red Wings (and Sidney Crosby, I guess) but I think much of that irritation is rooted in the fact that they’re just so good. I knew something weird was happening when I found myself actually liking the 2010 playoffs edition of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Perhaps true villainy can only be constrained to individuals such as Jarkko Ruutu and Sean Avery in the salary cap era? Either way, it will take a perfect storm of pugilists and pretty play for a team to put together a group quite like the Broad Street Bullies ever again.

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    Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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    The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

    “Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

    “That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

    More on the statue from the Devils:

    The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

    Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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    The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

    Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

    The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

    Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

    “It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

    “You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

    “We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

    The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

    Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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    In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

    After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

    The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

    — He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

    — From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

    — Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

    He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

    Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

    The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

    The Islanders also have a game in hand.

    Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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    The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

    As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

    Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

    In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.