Lighting the Lamp With Rick Ackerman
The team once known as the Broad Street Bullies swoops into St. Louis tonight to pay a holiday visit to the Blues. The Philadelphia Flyers of the 1970s battered and bruised their way to two consecutive Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975, led by captain Bobby Clarke (Hockey Hall of Fame 1987) and goaltender Bernie Parent (HHoF 1984).
There were some colorful personalities on those 70s teams. Ed Van Impe (For years I thought his middle name was “Around” after listening to Dan Kelly’s audio recording of the game in which Red Berenson scored six goals, skating past Van Impe several times.), former Blue Andre “Moose” Dupont and Joe Watson provided a formidable defense, while forwards Bob “Battleship” Kelly and Terry Crisp (both former Blues) and Dave “the Hammer” Schultz, Bill Clement and Don Saleski added muscle and grit. Scoring was ample, from players including Clarke, Rick MacLeish, Bill Barber (HHoF 1990) and Bill “Cowboy” Flett. Another player who had previously worn the Note was back-up goaltender Wayne Stephenson, traded by St. Louis to Philadelphia in 1974. Even the coach, Freddy “the Fog” Shero (HHoF 2013) was eccentric, often lost in thought and impervious to the world outside his introverted personality.
The Flyers of today could easily be dubbed the Broad Street Blasters instead of the Bullies as they are ranked fourth in the league in goals scored per game and only in the middle of the NHL pack in penalties, including fighting majors. And yes, the current home of the Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center, is located on South Broad Street, just like the franchise’s original arena, the Spectrum.
Like St. Louis, Philadelphia was granted an expansion franchise in 1966 and began play in 1967. Founder and long-time owner Ed Snider passed away April 11, and a patch with his signature adorns the right shoulder of the Flyers’ jerseys.
Philadelphia qualified for the playoffs 18 times during its first 20 seasons and 40 times in 50 total years, participating in six Finals series losses and the two Stanley Cup championships. St. Louis and Philadelphia met twice in the playoffs, with the Blues winning both series, 4-3 in 1968 and 4-0 in 1969. They have not met in postseason play since then.
The Blues and Flyers consummated their first trade in June 1968 when center Lou Angotti and defenseman Ian Campbell came to St. Louis in exchange for center Gerry Melnyk and defenseman Darryl Edestrand. On the same day, June 11, the Blues dealt Angotti to Pittsburgh for winger Ab McDonald. Campbell never played a game in the NHL. Angotti returned to St. Louis in June 1969 when he was acquired along with a first-round draft pick (No. 7 overall, Gene Carr) from Pittsburgh for Ron Schock, Craig Cameron and a 1972 second-round choice (No. 30 overall, Bernie Lukowich). However, Angotti played the 1969-70 season in Chicago after being claimed by the Blackhawks in the intraleague draft. He remained a Hawk until1973, when he again returned to St. Louis and played 51 games, notching 12 goals and 35 points in his last season as an NHL player. Angotti was hired to coach the Blues immediately after he retired, but was replaced in 1974 by Lynn Patrick (HHoF 1980) after starting the season with a dismal 2-6-2 record.
Another deal in May 1969 resulted in the Blues buying forward Ron Buchanan for cash from the Flyers. Buchanan stayed long enough for a cup of coffee in St. Louis (two games) and then played two seasons for the farm team in Kansas City before moving on to the WHA Cleveland Crusaders. A bigger trade occurred in December 1972 when winger Pierre Plante and defenseman Brent Hughes were sent from the Flyers to the Blues for Moose Dupont and a third-round draft pick in 1973 (Bob Stumpf). Stumpf ended up in St. Louis in November 1973 in a trade for defenseman George Pesut. Plante played five seasons wearing the Note, accumulating 140 goals and 216 points in 357 games. Hughes played parts of two seasons in St. Louis, with a goal and an assist in 10 games before going to the WHA.
In June 1979 the Blues obtained center Blake Dunlop and defenseman Rick Lapointe from the Flyers for goaltender Phil Myre. Dunlop played five good seasons in St. Louis and Lapointe three solid seasons, while Myre lasted only two seasons in Philadelphia. Three other deals in the 1980s between the two clubs resulted in goaltender Michel “Bunny” Larocque, defenseman Gordie Roberts and center Peter Zezel all becoming Blues, while Mike Bullard became a Flyer. Philadelphia also received a fourth-round draft pick (Reid Simpson, who played one game in an orange jersey before joining the Blues in 2000) and cash.
St. Louis acquired center Craig McTavish in March 1996 for veteran Dale Hawerchuk (HHoF 2001), a move that benefited the Flyers more than the Blues. McTavish played parts of two seasons before retiring from active duty (two goals and eight points in 63 games), going on to coach in New York as an assistant and Edmonton as the head coach. Hawerchuk netted 16 goals and 38 points in 67 games over two seasons for Philadelphia before retiring. The last trade between the franchises happened in February 2004 when the Blues obtained defenseman Eric Weinrich for a fifth-round draft pick in 2004. Weinrich played parts of two seasons in St. Louis (three goals and 27 points in 85 games) and went on to play for Vancouver and the AHL Portland Pirates.
After tonight, the only remaining game that separates us from the Winter Classic on January 2 is Friday’s visit from the Nashville Predators. Bring ‘em on.