I don’t know where you are right now, but outside of my window sits layer upon layer of frigid snow and ice. It’s the same snow and ice that covers the concrete base that makes up Philadelphia’s Broad Street. The ironic thing about today’s gloomy weather is that it matches the spirits of Philadelphia Flyers fans everywhere.
No matter how young or old a Flyers fan may be, they know all the stories about the Stanley Cup Champion Broad Street Bullies. It’s the group of stories their parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles have been waiting to tell them since they were born. Stories of guys like Bernie Parent and Bobby Clarke fill the minds of the generation that had the chance to see the greatest Flyers team ever known.
Today, whether you lived to watch that team or just saw photographs before you were put to bed at night, it’s certain that you possess the same heavy heart as the Flyers fans across the street, the next town over and right on the other side the bridge.
Yesterday, Hockey Hall of Famer and iconic Flyers alumni member, Keith Allen passed away at the age of 90. Allen, who was a player, coach and general manager before his hockey career was over, is remembered by many.
Before being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992, Allen actually played in 28 career games with the Detroit Red Wings between 1953-55. When his days as a player were over, Allen set out to coach the Flyers. In fact, he was the first head coach in the team’s history.
Perhaps the most memorable times in the career of Allen came when he was Philadelphia’s general manager, a role he took over in 1969. In taking over that role, he not only constructed a roster that won two Stanley Cup titles in 1974 and 1975, but he constructed the single most recognized team in the history of the Flyers — the Broad Street Bullies.
The significance behind the “Bullies” is that they were known as hockey’s toughest team on the face of the planet, and many still consider them the toughest group of players in the history of sports. They were so tough that people blame many rule changes on them. If you haven’t heard the story about the “Red Army Game,” be sure to look it up. You might understand a little better.
With all that being said, if you think about it not only is Allen responsible for changing the history of one team, he’s responsible for changing the history of an entire league and sport.
Today, I highly encourage Flyers fans to forget about tomorrow night’s game and don’t spend the day thinking about where the Flyers currently sit in the playoff standings. Instead, use today as a time to reflect, remember and thank arguably the greatest man to ever be a part of the Flyers’ organization.
I think I speak on behalf of Flyers fans everywhere when I say, “Thank you, Thief.”