Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11, 1976: The Broad Street Bullies Battle The Red Army

On January 11, 1976, in an internationally televised contest, the Philadelphia Flyers lived up to their nickname "The Broad Street Bullies" in an exhibition 4-1 beating of the Soviet Central Army team. They didn't just beat them on the scoreboard they came onto the ice and brought about an aggressive play that the Russian squad had not seen before. They were known as a "finesse" team and were about to experience an American brand of hockey that had led to back-to-back titles for the Flyers. That team from Philly was not about to modify their style of play in the name of diplomacy. Before a goal was even produced Flyers defenseman Ed Van Impe leveled one of the Russian's highest scorers Valeri Kharlamov from behind, it left him down on the ice for more than a minute. When the referees failed to call a penalty after the incident, the head coach of the Soviet team Konstantin Loktev pulled his goalie from the ice. The officials responded with a delay of game penalty against the Soviet squad and Loktev responded to that by pulling his entire team off the ice in protest. It would take 16 minutes for them to return, one motivating factor was they were informed by NHL President Clarence Campbell that it was likely that they would forfeit their fee of $25,000, by today's standards that would top more than $100,000.  Loktev stated that they simply didn't want to play "animal hockey" he was concerned with his players health with the Olympics on the horizon and in his eyes he was doing what he had to do to protect them. Once play resumed with the Flyers on the powerplay it only took them 17 seconds to capitalize with a Reggie Leach goal. It was followed with goals by Rick MacLeish and Joe Watson before the Russians answered with a goal by Victor Kutyergin. The Flyers wrapped things up with a Larry Goodenough goal in the third period. The score was far from the story. Although, many thought the Russian team would handle the Flyers easily. Instead, the Flyers manhandled them into near submission. The Soviets had a passing game and an offensive attack like no other, but it was no match for that bruising style that they would encounter the moment they took the ice against that team they called the Broad Street Bullies.

You can watch the incident here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ddPhG6EAOo

I would also highly recommend the documentary "The Broad Street Bullies" it gives an absolute great look at that team that was known for pummeling the opponents that were put in front of them as they became one of the best teams in all of hockey.

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