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Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers were part of the first group of expansion teams allowed into the NHL in 1967. The original ownership group included Bill Putnam, Jerry Wolman, and Ed Snider. The Flyers immediately puchased an American Hockey League (AHL) team, the Quebec Aces, giving the team depth and experience that would be helpful in the near future. They played in a brand new facility called the Spectrum. Before the end of their first season, Jerry Wolman was forced out due to financial problems and Ed Snider gained majority control of the team along with his partners, Bill Putnam and Joe Scott.

The Flyers played their first NHL game in October, 1967 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Spectrum. Thanks to mother nature they would soon have to look for an alternate home later that year as the roof of the Spectrum was blown off in a fierce winter storm. This brought them north to Le Colisee in Quebec City, their home for a month as the Spectrum was fixed. The Flyers moved back to their home rink just in time for their first playoff appearence as they took on the St Louis Blues. The Blues prevailed that year in a close seven game series. The next couple of years would see the Flyers become a hit with local fans, as they brought together a diverse group of players, having moderate success. Change though was just around the corner once the Flyers saw the successful championship runs of the 'Big, Bad Bruins'. What followed was general manager Keith Allen putting together a bigger and tougher team that would hit first and ask questions later. They would be christened as the now famous 'Broad Street Bullies'. Bobby Clarke was their young captain and the line-up featured many tough guys including Dave "the Hammer" Schultz.

With the core of tough players surrounded by an up and coming captain in Bobby Clarke and talented goalie Bernie Parent, the Flyers made great strides in those early years. In the 1974 playoffs the they defeated the New York Rangers and the heavily favored Boston Bruins to win their first ever Stanley Cup championship. Their win was far from a fluke as the Flyers found themselves back in the Stanley Cup finals in 1975. They defeated the Buffalo Sabres, with Bernie Parent posting a shut out in the final game, to win their second straight Stanley Cup. It was clear to see that the 'Broad Street Bullies' were on a roll with two straight wins and the very next year they were back in the finals. This time they faced a very skilled Montreal Canadiens team, that swept them in four games, denying the three-peat. The Flyers continued to play their rough and tough style into the 1980s. They were back in the Stanley Cup finals in 1980, but lost to the up and coming New York Islanders. In this era Bobby Clarke had by far become the most well known Flyer and a fan favorite in Philly. He would play for the Flyers till 1984, when he retired from hockey.

Though Clarke had left, what started was a new era in Philadelphia - more specifically the Mike Keenan era. Keenan led the team back to the Stanley Cup finals in 1985, where they lost to the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers in five games. The two teams would again meet for Lord Stanley's cup in 1987 - unfortunately for the Flyers, the result was the same. The Oilers were on a roll and won the cup. Keenan was out of Philadelphia by 1988, and the next couple of years saw the Flyers hit the skids. They missed the playoffs for five straight years, as they added some promising future prospects including Eric Lindros in a major trade with the Quebec Nordiques in 1992. Lindros was an instant attraction in Philly, he had exceptional hockey streak and a mean streak. But Lindros was also often injured or unable to play at his peak performance. The Flyers broke through in 1994 when they brought Terry Murray in as coach, Bobby Clarke as the general manager along with some on ice changes. Lindros teamed up with John Leclair and Mikael Renberg to form the fomous "Legion of Doom" line - a mix of scoring talent, and big, physical presence, a la the Broadstreet Bullies. The Flyers were divison champs in the lockout shortened season. They got past Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers in the playoffs, only to lose to that year's eventual Stanley Cup champs, the New Jersey Devils.

The Flyers continued their regular season success - finishing first in 1995-96, but losing in the first round of the NHL playoffs to the upstart Florida Panthers. The following year they finished second in the Atlantic division and moved through the playoffs to a berth in the Stanley Cup finals. Once again they fell short, losing to the Detroit Red Wings. Wholesale changes were in store for the Flyers as Wayne Cashman and Roger Neilson were brought in along with the free-agent signing of Chris Gratton. The Flyers struggled through the season as they were unable to adapt to NHL rule changes and were handily defeated by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL playoffs. The following years saw even more changes as Eric Lindros, Mikael Renberg, Chris Gratton, Roger Neilson, and Wayne Cahsman would all leave Philadelphia. The Flyers continued to put forth good regular season performances but did not have a great deal of playoff success. Bobby Clarke's quest for the Stanley Cup continued as the team evolved with players like Jeremy Roenick, Keith Primeau and Tony Amonte - a mix of talent, size, and grit.

The 2003-04 regular season saw the Flyers continue their reign as the premier hockey team in the Eastern conference. They did not disappoint their fans, finishing atop the Atlantic Division and third overall in the Eastern Conference. Their first round playoff matchup was against long time rivals from New Jersey and the Flyers rolled through the Devils in 5 games. Up next were the Toronto Maple Leafs, who too were defeated in 6 games. The Eastern Conference final saw the upstart Tampa Bay Lightning take on Philadelphia. After going back and forth in the series, the Flyers lost to the Lightning in a tough 7 game series, leaving the Flyers one game short of a Stanley Cup appearence. The 2005 off-season saw Bobby Clarke and the Flyers load up on big, physical defenseman with the signings of Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje. This may have been somewhat of a miscalculation as the NHL moved to more of a speed and scoring style of hockey. But the return of Peter Forsberg certainly compensated on that end as both he and Simon Gagne had banner seasons, leading them to a second place finish in the Atlantic division. The Flyers though were no match to the speed and skill of the Buffalo Sabres, losing in 6 games.

Philadelphia Flyers Overview:
Team name: Philadelphia Flyers
Founded: 1967
Arena: Wachovia Center
Stanley Cups won: 2 (1974, 1975)

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