May 12, 2008

1974: Broad Street Bullies Are First Expansion Champions

The year is 1974. It has been six years since the National Hockey League doubled in size from six to twelve teams. No expansion team had ever won the Stanley Cup. Until now.

The Philadelphia Flyers were the talk of hockey, with their aggressive and downright dirty tactics earning the label "Broad Street Bullies." But in the spring of 1974 they would fend off the favored Boston Bruins and earn another eternal label - Stanley Cup champion.

The Flyers are led by superstar center Bobby Clarke, a face off and defensive wizard but more importantly the heart and soul of the Flyers. Rick MacLeish be the offensive dynamo, leading all scorers with 22 points. But it was goaltender Bernie Parent who was the essential key to the championship. With a playoffs best 2.02 GAA, 2 shutouts and 12 wins, Parent was the obvious recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Flyers also had an unlikely secret weapon from which they drew strength, or at least luck. Kate Smith warbled her way into hockey history by singing "God Bless America" in place of "The Star Spangled Banner." Much to the delight of the Philadelphia faithful, Smith became the Flyers good luck charm. lists game by game results when Smith's trademark song was either played or performed live. Her record 74-20-3, including the 2007-08 season.

For the Bruins and their star Bobby Orr, it was the second time in the last three years that they were upset in a year when they should have won the Stanley Cup.

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