The Philadelphia Flyers earned the nickname the Broad Street Bullies for a reason. Never one to turn down a fight, the organization often employed guys specifically to drop the gloves. While the classic NHL enforcer has gone the way of the dinosaurs, that doesn’t mean tempers don’t flare once in a while, sparking all out brawls.
This week I’ll rank the top 5 Flyers line brawls in the last 20 years.
Number 5- Flyers vs Maple Leafs 12/11/99
This one starts off with a neutral zone faceoff when Sandy McCarthy and Tie Domi exchange words which leads to the refs replacing McCarthy with Craig Berube. Berube would hit Domi in the back of the head after puck drop, sparking the brawl. It broke down into Luke Richardson versus Chris Johnson and McCarthy and Dimitri Kristich. Berube would then lock up with Dimitri Yushkevich. Goaltender Curtis Joseph would come down the ice to square off with Brian Boucher, though they never threw a punch. Adam Burt was then double teamed by Tie Domi and Tomas Kaberle, the former of whom would throw multiple punches after Burt had already fallen to the ice. Richardson would come the Burt’s aid and Domi proceeded to hide behind Kaberle. Domi would then skate over to the corner and jawjack with Sandy McCarthy who was already restrained by a ref. Meanwhile, Boucher and Joseph were still twirling around center ice, engaged in an on-ice waltz. Domi was led to the penalty box where, behind glass, he proceeded to yell over to and flip off McCarthy and Berube in the Flyers box.
Number 4- Flyers vs Capitals 11/1/13
Things heated up after Joel Ward scored his third goal of the game in controversial fashion after Ray Emery lost his mask, making the game 7-0. The following faceoff started with Wayne Simmonds throwing two huge checks on Steven Oleksy and Tom Wilson then dropping the gloves with Wilson. During the Simmonds fight, Ray Emery charged the length of the ice to challenge Washington goalie Braden Holtby to a fight, which he wasn’t willing to accept. That didn’t stop Emery from pounding Holtby into the corner where he eventually hit the ice. While the refs worked on breaking that up, Vinny Lecavalier dropped the gloves with Steven Oleksy while Brayden Schenn faced off against Alex Urbom. After the dust settled, the Flyers racked up 99 PIM, 29 of which belonged to Emery, while the Caps had 65.
Number 3- Flyers vs Penguins before playoffs 4/1/12
This one started with a huge open ice hit from Joe Vitale on Danny Briere and that lit the powder keg that was building between these heated rivals. Both teams met at center ice for a brawl where Brayden Schenn threw hands with Aaron Asham. Deryk Engelland went at it with Wayne Simmonds, Craig Adams dropped the gloves with M.A. Bourdon, and this was the famous scene where Peter Laviolette and Dan Bylsma were screaming at each other while standing on their respective benches. After the dust settled there was a total of 68 penalty minutes between the two teams, and it also set the stage for the playoffs that were just ten days away.
Number 2- Flyers vs Penguins 4/15/12 Eastern Conference Quarter Finals Game 3
This game took place just 14 days after the Flyers line brawl with the Penguins during their last meeting of the regular season. James Neal would throw a check to the head of Sean Couturier, who was nowhere near the puck. Couturier would leave the ice under his own power, but the fuse was lit. The faceoff would go as normal followed by about a minute of play, but Coburn would shove Malkin down in front of Bryzgalov, which lead to more pushing and shoving. Later in the same play, Neal would hit Giroux in the head, who proceeded fall down before slowly making his way back to the Flyers bench. The scrum broke out as Coburn and Talbot met Malkin and Engelland between the benches. Rinaldo, who was on the bench tried to get involved, but he was restrained by Simmonds. Brayden Schenn and Crosby paired off, though didn’t drop the gloves, while Voracek and Kunitz had fallen to the ice. Kubina and Engelland would square off, but were separated by the officials. After Neal was only given a two minute penalty for charging, Simmonds would shove him on his way to the box, while Hartnell would go after Crosby by the Penguins bench, only to be met by Craig Adams. Giroux would hold back Crosby while Hartnell and Adams had a spirited fight. While the officials racked up the penalty minutes, the Flyers fans were entertained by a video of Hulk Hogan followed by chants of “you can’t beat us” and “lets go Flyers”.
Number 1- Flyers vs Senators 3/5/04
The last time these two teams met, Martin Havlat swung his stick at the head of Mark Recchi, so the tension was high going into the game. Donald Brashear and Rob Ray dropped the gloves with under two minutes left in the game, which Brashear was the victor of. Brashear would try to start another fight with Todd Simpson on his way to the penalty box and that sparked a full line brawl, including goaltenders Patrick Lalime and Robert Esche. Shaun Van Allen and Branko Radivojevic had quite the scrap in the corner, whilst the goalies fought in the other. The original scrap was cleared, but the fight wasn’t over. Chris Neil and Radovan Somik as well as Zdeno Chara and Mattias Timander would drops off the gloves of the following faceoff. After the game was reset yet again, Mike Fisher and Michal Handzus fought after the faceoff which would end after Fisher hip-tossed Handzus head first onto the ice. The game would proceed for about thirty seconds before John LeClair threw a big check on Wade Redden, starting another scrap between Recchi and Smolinski. Spezza and Sharp would be the last two combatants to fight on the next faceoff. The game ended with 419 penalty minutes, a new NHL record. The Flyers also set the record for most PIM by a single team with 213. Each team had six players left in the game, and it finished with a Flyers 5-3 victory.
Flyers vs Senators 1/20/11
While this did not come close to the sloberknocker seven years earlier, it was still a good brawl. Claude Giroux would steamroll Jesse Winchester with 7:48 left in the third period in a game that they were winning 5-2. The Senators didn’t take kindly to this and Winchester would drop the gloves with Jeff Carter. After a fun little scrap the game continued but four minutes later Nick Foligino would seek revenge on Claude Giroux. While Foligno dominated Giroux, G did manage to get a few good shots in before slamming him down back first on the ice. The following faceoff, all hell broke loose as Hartnell fought Jarkko Ruutu, Carkner went with O’Donnell, and Jody Shelley paired off with Chris Neil. Both the Hartnell and O’Donnell fights finished quick, but the heavyweights Shelley and Chris Neil had a pay-per-view caliber scrap which ended in a draw.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
Photo credit: usatoday.com