The Flyers, despite an unusually messy expansion birth 50 years ago, have matured into a model of NHL success. Valued by Forbes at $730 million, the franchise has consistently filled its arena, reached eight Stanley Cup Finals, and added a bright orange hue to an already colorful Philadelphia sports scene.
The Flyers have had a coaching carousel in the 2000s - 16 seasons and seven head coaches. "We did have some different coaches over the years," club president Paul Holmgren said. "Sometimes, the pressure to win is exponential when you have a good team, and if you feel like you have a good team and maybe need a tweak in the coaching, that's what you do."
Fifth in a series In some ways, the 21st century has been one of upheaval for the Flyers. They changed coaches seven times in a 16-season period, traded away a goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, who became a Vezina Trophy winner as the league's best goaltender, and dealt the two faces of the franchise on the same dizzying day in 2011.
One by one, they struggled in from the cold of the parking lot carrying a large duffel bag of equipment and with a hockey stick or two tucked under an arm. The former Flyers who will play an alumni game on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center against a team of Pittsburgh Penguins alumni have to haul their own stuff these days and they move a bit slower than before, but they are Flyers forever and the fans never forget.
If you're going to write about the Flyers of the 1970s, you have to talk to and write about Dave Schultz. The story cannot be told without him. Just 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, he was nevertheless the most intimidating enforcer of the age. He led the NHL in penalty minutes each of his first three years in the NHL, and his 472 penalty minutes in 1974-75 remain the league's single-season record. He was, as his teammate Bill Clement put it, "the baddest animal in the hockey jungle."