HBO’s documentary on the 1970s Flyers, BROAD STREET BULLIES, is great because it doesn’t apologize for them.
It doesn’t reinvent them as misunderstood guys.
It doesn’t act like the NHL ever really like the Flyers.
Instead, the documentary is a celebration of the 1970s Flyers and what they meant to the city of Philadelphia and to each other.
As a New York Mets fan, I could understand the appeal of a team willing to do anything to win. Even if what it was doing bordered on insanity.
Fans want their teams to do whatever it takes to succeed. We want our teams to want it as badly as we do. And more often than not, teams just don’t care as much as we do. Because to fans, sports is an escape. To athletes, sports is a job.
The Broad Street Bullies-era Flyers seemed more like a collection of fans that happened to play at the professional level.
It didn’t make for the prettiest hockey and it probably set the sport back a few decades, but you have to respect and appreciate a collection of players who cared so much about their teammates, their fans, and their city.
Also, despite their reputation as thugs, the 1970s Flyers had a lot of speed and offensive fire power. In clips, they looked like they could probably outskate most modern NHL teams, a fact that is often lost when discussing the mythology of the Broad Street Bullies.
You also have to love Bill Clement, who often seemed stilted, and perhaps even sedated, so much of the time on ESPN and Versus, cursing and having fun, remembering his tenure as a Flyer. It’s too bad we never got to see that side of him when he was doing color commentary.
BROAD STREET BULLIES premiers Tuesday night at 10 PM on HBO.