The Top 10 most brutal incidents in Philadelphia Flyers history

Philadelphia prospect Steve Downie laid a disgracefully vicious, concussion-inducing hit on Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond in exhibition play on Tuesday night. Was Downie sending a message that the NHL club known more than any other for enshrining violence as a tactic is back in business as the “Broad Street Bullies”?

In recent years, the Flyers haven’t always lived up to the reputation they established while brawling their way to two straight Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. In 2005-06, for instance, they ranked 21st out of 30 teams in terms of times shorthanded. Some might even hypothesize that this year’s off-season acquisitions of important yet diminutive free agents like Daniel Briere (5-10, 179 lbs.) and Kimmo Timonen (5-10, 194 lbs.) might signal a shift in the traditional club formula of “size equals pain equals victory.”

But don’t count on it.

Here are the Top 10 most brutal incidents in Philadelphia Flyers history.

1. Dave Brown on Tomas Sandstrom, 1987: Brown, then one of the NHL’s most feared enforcers at age 25, blindsided Sandstrom with a cross-check that broke the jaw of the talented New York Rangers forward and gave him a concussion. The 6-5, 205-pound Brown received a 15-game suspension. Shortly afterwards, he appeared at a local comedy club to reenact the sequence in a misguided attempt at humor.

2. Don Saleski, Bob Kelly, Orest Kindrachuk, and Dave Schultz on Mike Christie, 1974: Christie was breaking in as a defenseman with the California Golden Seals, and had the misfortune to encounter the Flyers’ gang mentality. After Christie fought Schultz, he later ended up being attacked by four Flyers inside the California penalty box, according to Shorthanded: The Untold Tale of the Seals by Brad Kurtzberg. Saleski and Kelly each earned six-game suspensions for their roles in the beating.

3. Dave Schultz on Dale Rolfe, 1974: This remains one of the most notoriously brutal and one-sided fights in NHL history. Schultz, living up to his nickname of “The Hammer,” jumped Rolfe in Game Seven of the semi-finals versus the New York Rangers. Pulling Rolfe’s hair and pummeling him mercilessly, Schultz capitalized on the Rangers’ unwillingness to help out their teammate. The Flyers went on to beat Boston for the Cup.

4. Bobby Clarke on Valeri Kharlamov, 1972: Clarke hadn’t won two Cups, three Hart Trophies, and a Selke Trophy yet in 1972, but he started making a name for himself in a Team Canada jersey when he attacked arguably the most gifted forward in Russian hockey history. Clarke, the future Philadelphia captain, broke Kharlamov’s ankle with an ugly slash in Game Six of the Summit Series against the USSR, and Canada ultimately prevailed in Game Eight.

5. Rick Tocchet on Ryan Smyth, 1998: To this day, Smyth wears a knee brace due to the knee-on-knee hit Tocchet delivered in a game versus the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton GM Glen Sather dubbed it “the worst deliberate attempt to injure I’ve ever seen”—a strong statement from a man who’d employed the likes of Mark Messier and Marty McSorley over the years. The league slapped Tocchet, 33, with a two-game suspension.

6. Paul Holmgren on Andy van Hellemond, 1981: The current Flyers GM simply lost it after van Hellemond, a veteran referee, assessed him a game misconduct for instigating a fight with Pittsburgh’s Paul Baxter. Holmgren punched van Hellemond and incurred a five-game suspension and $500 fine.

7. Eric Lindros on Andreas Dackell, 1998: NHL justice minister Colin Campbell decided that a gigantic Lindros hit that left the Ottawa Senators forward concussed and cut for 30 stitches qualified as clean. Regardless of one’s opinion, there was no doubt that Lindros drove Dackell’s head into the boards with full force.

8. Mel Bridgman, Bob Kelly, Don Saleski, and Joe Watson on Toronto and its fans, 1976: All four Flyers got involved in altercations during a quarter-finals series with Toronto, ranging from fighting to stick-wielding to glove-throwing at a female spectator. Ontario Attorney General Roy McMurtry filed assault charges, but in the end, only Watson and Kelly pleaded guilty to lesser charges, and were obliged to pay fines. It was a vintage “Broad Street Bullies” episode.

9. Ed Van Impe on Valeri Kharlamov, 1976: In a notorious exhibition game versus Moscow’s Central Red Army that perpetuated Philadelphia’s anti-Russian reputation, Van Impe creamed Kharlamov with a blindside elbow. Russian coach Konstantin Loktev pulled his players off the ice and although they returned shortly afterwards to suffer a dispirited 4-1 loss, Loktev called the Flyers a “bunch of animals.” Van Impe, one season away from the end of his NHL defense career, was traded to Pittsburgh later that year.

10. Ron Hextall on Chris Chelios, 1989: Chelios, then with Montreal, was certainly no angel in the ’89 conference finals, as he concussed Philly’s Brian Propp with a vicious hit in Game One. Hextall’s rage mounted, and with the series clearly lost in Game Six, he raced out of his net, berserker-style, to pound Chelios with under two minutes to play. The former Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goalie was suspended for 12 games. Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

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