In the history of the National Hockey League, it’s tough to imagine a team that changed the style of the game more than the Philadelphia Flyers during the 1970s. The team fought and clawed their way to back-to-back Stanley Cups, creating a legend that Philadelphia –and the NHL – have not been able to duplicate since. Their story has been told in a variety of book and video documentaries over the years but now the story is getting a new twist, from a very unlikely storyteller.
Last summer, film director and heavy metal icon Rob Zombie announced that he would be directing a feature film focusing on the Broad Street Bullies. It’s a completely different type of film for the horror-genre visionary, whose works include such cult-classics as The Devil’s Reject and House of 1,000 Corpses, meaning he will need to better acquaint himself with the subject matter. That’s why Zombie will be scouting and doing some film preparation on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center when the Flyers host the Tampa Bay Lighting, according to Flyers insider Anthony SanFilippo.
The Broad Street Bullies was a nickname given to the Flyers early in the 1970s, which stemmed from Philadelphia’s most well known street – Broad Street – and the fact that the team had a rough, tough, take-nothing-from-no-one kind of attitude. But what started the birth of the Broad Street Bullies?
After being dominated physically by the St. Louis Blues in the 1969 playoffs, owner Ed Snider and his expansion team were tired of being pushed around on the ice – and knew things had to change.
“I said we may not be able to out-skate everybody, but we can certainly get guys that can fight as well as anybody else,” Snider told the New York Times in an extensive interview last year. “In the old days, prior to the Blues terrorizing us, teams had what they called one policeman – like John Ferguson with the Montreal Canadiens. And I asked my guys, ‘Is there any rule that says you can’t have more than one?’ We sort of changed the philosophy at the time.”
Comprised of such tough-guys as Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, Bob “The Hound” Kelly and Andre “Moose” Dupont, the Flyers played a new style of hockey, one that was just as colorful as its players’ nicknames. These players protected and stood-up for the more skilled skaters that had the skills-set to come up big on the score sheet night-in and night-out. Snider’s new philosophy helped the Flyers win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1973-74 and 1974-75 and helped evolve the sport.
But why does Zombie, an established director in the realm of horror films, want to create a period-piece on one of the NHL’s most iconic – and hated – teams?
Zombie has admitted that he’s enthralled with all the violence that surrounded the Broad Street Bullies, as well as the specific era in which the team performed – an era when the NHL was still attempting to grow its product throughout North America. There are plenty of great stories surrounding the Bullies, including “The Fog Game” in 1975 and the game against the Red Army in 1976, leaving a wide range of material.
“It’s Rocky meets Boogie Nights on ice,” Zombie described in an ESPN interview last August. “It will be the true story. It will be gory.”
It sounds like it could be a new twist on the classic stories Flyers fans have passed down from generation to generation. With Zombie’s track record, there’s no doubt the movie will be over-the-top violent, which could once again spark up the hot-button topic of fighting and violence in the sport. There’s no release date or planned cast for the film at this point.
Ed is a die hard sports fan from Philadelphia who follows all of the city’s local teams. He has written for a number of print and internet media sources and is a hockey junky. When he is not watching a game, he is spitting out useless trivia knowledge, or upholding his title as movie quote extraordinaire. You can follow Ed on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller.