On Monday, June 11, 2012, the Los Angeles Kings won their first Stanley Cup. The Kings’ roster included four players who had once been stars for the Flyers, in addition to off-ice personnel with Philly connections (GM Ron Hextall among them). Area fans called the Kings the “Flyers West,” sometimes mockingly. I heard a few express joy that Richards, Carter, Gagne, Williams, Hextall et al. have won a Cup.
Which they did. And hooray for them. But they didn’t do it as Flyers.
No one wins a Cup as a Flyer.
The Flyers last won a Cup in May of 1975. In the 36 seasons since then, 16 other teams have won Cups, including six clubs that entered the league after the Flyers. Several clubs have won multiple times: Montreal 6, Edmonton 5, Detroit and the Islanders 4, Pittsburgh and New Jersey 3, and Colorado 2.
What have the Flyers done in that time? Oh, they got to the Cup Finals — six times, in fact. Lost them all: '76, '80, '85, '87, '97, '10. The worst such streak ever. No team in league history has ever appeared in six Finals without winning at least one. The Blackhawks and Red Wings each lost five Cups in a row ... only to win the sixth time.
Nope, the Flyers got that dubious record: 0-6 in their last six Finals.
Granted, other clubs have lost multiple times since 1975: Boston lost 4; Minnesota/Dallas and Vancouver lost 3; Detroit, Edmonton, and New Jersey lost 2. But with the lonely exception of Vancouver, all those other franchises have also won at least one Stanley Cup since '75.
The Flyers got nothing but memories.
The Broad Street Bullies was a long, long time ago, man. Bobby Clarke was 25 in 1975. He's 62 now. Many Flyers fans I know are too young to remember 1975 – or weren’t yet born.
So many chances, yet no victories to be had. Flyers fans are unique in this town for their utter devotion and their cult-like shunning of naysayers. They don’t criticize the team harshly like Eagles fans: they do so politely, and root on with high hopes. But these earnest, loyal fans have been rewarded with jack shit for three and a half decades. When they do get nasty, it’s against the competition. Or the naysayers. They blast Missanelli for not liking the Flyers, or not understanding the sport. They lampoon the Penguins fans for letting their team go bankrupt twice – but who’s the wiser customer? The ones who won’t pay to see crap and let their team nearly fold, or the ones who line up like cattle, with their Parent throwback jerseys on, paying to see year after year of almosts, coulda-beens, near-misses?
Losing the Stanley Cup is nothing to be proud of. You lost. This ain't Little League. You don’t get a trophy for losing, baby.
And yet, we’ve had some obviously fantastic talent roll through here, worthy of championships.
Since 1975, the following players left the Flyers (without having won a Cup) and then won a Cup (or Cups) elsewhere: Dave Michayluk, Brad McCrimmon, J.J. Daigneault, Ken Wregget, Jay Wells, Mike Ricci, Rod Brind’Amour, Justin Williams, Steve Duchesne, Shjon Podein, Mark Eaton, Simon Gagne, Ruslan Fedotenko, Dennis Seidenberg, Patrick Sharp, Jeff Carter, Ben Eager, and Mike Richards.
There’s the players who’d won a Cup (or Cups) elsewhere and then came here, with their loads of championship experience ... but didn’t win another Cup here in Philly: Glenn “Chico” Resch, Keith Acton, Ric Nattress, Mark Lamb, Rob Ramage, Eric Desjardins, Gilbert Dionne, Kevin Haller, John Leclair, Craig MacTavish, Petr Svoboda, Anatoli Semenov, Joel Otto, Paul Coffey, Valeri Zelepukin, Ulf Samuelsson, Derek Plante, Kevin Stevens, Vladimir Malakhov, Peter Forsberg, Derian Hatcher, Mike Knuble, Jon Sim, Turner Stevenson, Dmitry Afanasenkov, Jim Dowd, Chris Pronger, Nick Boynton, Sean O’Donnell, Kris Versteeg, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr, Andreas Lilja, Pavel Kubina, and Maxime Talbot.
There’s a few players who played here (no Cup), went somewhere else (Cup), then came back (no Cup): Ken Linseman, Dave Brown, Rick Tocchet, and Kjell Samuelsson.
Finally, there’s Mark Recchi, who won a Cup in Pittsburgh, came here (no Cup), left, came back (still no Cup), and then won Cups in Carolina and Boston.
Anyone who’s managed to read this far is a fervent Flyers fan, ready to blast me for even including bums like Dave Michayluk and Gilbert Dionne in the above lists. Those stiffs meant nothing to the Flyers, and nothing to the teams they won their Cups with.
Fair enough, I guess. But be they heroes or zeroes, their names are on the Cup.
Danny Briere doesn’t have his name on the Cup.
Neither does Jeremy Roenick.
Or Keith Primeau. Or Eric Lindros, or Dave Poulin, or Tim Kerr, or Mark Howe, or Paul Holmgren.
Not to mention the decades of worthless goons (Jody Shelly, Zac Rinaldo, Ian Laperriere, Dan Carcillo, Riley Cote, Steve Downie, Donald Brashear, Todd Fedoruk, Chris McAllister, Luke Richardson, Sandy McCarthy, Ryan McGill, Dan Kordic, Brantt Myhres, Scott Daniels, Shawn Antoski, Terry Carkner, Claude Boivin, Dale Kushner, Jeff Chychrun, Greg Smyth, Ed Hospodar, Glen Cochrane, Behn Wilson, Paul Holmgren, Craig Berube, Darryl Stanley, Mike Busniuk, etc. etc.) These tough guys took up the Broad Street Bullies tradition and dropped the gloves for the orange and black. But not one of those assholes has a ring. Not one. So what "tradition" did they really uphold?
Dave Schultz, yes. Dave Brown, yes (incredibly; he rode the pine in Edmonton during the Gretzky years). Jay Wells and Ben Eager, yes - with other clubs. Only Schultz did it here. So that’s, what? One out of thirty would-be Bullies who's won a Cup with Philadelphia? That’s a lot fighting majors with, ultimately, nothing to show for it.
Do you realize that every goalie to ever play for the Flyers since Bernie Parent, with the exceptions of Resch, Wregget, and Bryzgalov, never won a Cup?
Read that again: since 1975, EVERY SINGLE GOALIE to have played for the Flyers – except Parent, Resch (backup in Long Island), Wregget (backup in Pittsburgh), and Bryzgalov (backup in Anaheim) – has failed to win a Cup, here or anywhere else. Cechmanek, Roussell, St. Croix, Peeters, the whole stinking shitty lot of them.
Oh, Hextall won one just the other day. As a 48 year-old GM. In fucking Los Angeles. Southern California - that hockey bastion, teams in LA and Anaheim - now has as many Cups as Philadelphia.
Flyers fans will no doubt curse the author of this rant. Obviously, I’m not a true fan. (Obviously.) Yet fans’ outrage should be directed at none other than Mr. Snider and his organ-I-zation. Little old me did not make the Flyers such a perpetual near-miss. Little old me didn't put the kibosh on signing Russians. Little old me didn't lose sight of the very obvious fact that many of our goalies have blown like two dollar whores on half-price night. Whether I’m a Stepford fan or a reformed one who sees things clearly now . . . it doesn’t matter.
What matters is, Sidney Crosby has a ring. But none of the Flyers do.