After last night’s game against the Dallas Stars, I was quickly reminded why I’ve never liked the Philadelphia Flyers. Never mind the fact that they’re deeper and currently more talented. In all honesty, it actually has nothing to do with the beat down they handed Dallas last night, winning 4-1, as they remain unbeaten against the Stars in the last six games. No, my disdain for the Flyers comes from my early days of watching hockey. Back in the day when the bias that was on display by the Versus broadcast team would have been mainstream, as it was on ESPN then (remember Gary Thorne calling any Stars/Avs game).
When I started watching hockey some 25 years ago, ESPN would have hockey on Wednesday nights, if I recall correctly. There was a consistent list of teams that would be highlighted every week: Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. I was always attracted to the goalie position and at that time, Martin Brodeur was the best in the game (Not a lot of exposure to Patrick Roy then as Montreal rarely made the highlight reel, let alone a featured game), so I became a huge fan of the Devils. Also, I admired the skill and work ethic of Mario Lemieux of the Penguins. I still get chills when I think back to when he came out of retirement and the Pens lowered his jersey number from the rafters and stored it away.
So, being a Devils and Pens fan, it was only natural that I dislike the Flyers. I’ve been a Dallas Cowboys fan all my life, so it was already instilled in me to have an animosity built up for anything Philadelphia. Toss in the fact that they had Eric Lindros and their jerseys were hideous, and you had boiling pot ready to spill over. The “Legion of Doom:” John LeClair and Mikael Renberg along with their young, cocky captain, Lindros often reminded me of Randall Cunningham, Keith Byers and Reggie White from the Eagles. They were good. There was no denying that fact, but it generally came at the expense of my favorite team(s).
Then there was last night. Once again, the Flyers were good. Very good. Once again, it came at the expense of my favorite team. Then, we were treated to the spectacle at the end of the first period where Flyers head coach, Peter Laviolette pushed his way into the walkway the Stars use to head to their locker room. Stars forward, Steve Ott took exception to Laviolette’s refusal to let the home team through first. It is at this time the cameras show Ott saying something to Laviolette and then the Flyers coach actually pushes Otter who then shoves Peter back. After the game, Ott responded to questions regarding the incident, “It’s disrespect of our building. Just let our team off. He obviously thought he has a higher power than everybody else.” He also said, “If that’s [Flyers] the top echelon of this league and we’re the bottom in terms of payroll, with our character, I like our chances.”
There are certain teams that I find myself watching where I inevitably state that I would love to face that particular team in a seven game series. Would the Flyers win a series against the Stars? Most likely, but the Stars are pesky. They won’t roll over, not for anyone. This team has quite a ways to go before they are to be taken as serious Cup contenders. In the mean time, I’m pleased knowing the Dallas Stars need to be just taken seriously as competitors.