All week at NBC Sports Philadelphia, we're debating the biggest villains in Philly sports history. Today, we look at the Flyers. You can vote here.
The Flyers’ history is littered with opposing players that have sparked the collective disdain of the team’s fans.
Here's a quick look at some of the rest:
The late-60s St. Louis Blues
This might seem like an odd choice. But the Blues eliminated the Flyers in their first two playoff appearances (1968 and 1969) thanks in large part to physical play that typically crossed the line. It even led to Flyers fans engaging Blues players in a physical altercation.
Ultimately, those vicious Blues teams convinced Ed Snider to find the players that became the Broad Street Bullies. If your actions cause an organization to go scorched earth on a whole league, you qualify as a proper villain.
Leon Stickle/Bob Nystrom
Five years before Don Denkinger altered the course of the World Series, the NHL had its version of a fatal officiating error in the Stanley Cup Final. Linesman Leon Stickle missed an obvious offside call that led to an Islanders goal in Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final against the Flyers. Thanks in part to that tally, the game went to overtime in which the Isles’ Bob Nystrom scored the Cup-clinching goal.
Had the Flyers won that Game 6, there’s a strong likelihood they win Game 7 at the Spectrum and lift the Stanley Cup for a third time. An accomplishment the franchise still awaits.
“Beezer,” as he was known, may not be an obvious choice but he twice played a prominent role in eliminating legitimate Cup-contending Flyers teams from the playoffs. The Flyers of the mid-1980s probably deserved to win a Stanley Cup. In 1985 and 1987, they lost in the final to the dynastic Oilers. In 1986, the Flyers were also the best team in the Prince of Wales Conference. But John Vanbiesbrouck, that season’s Vezina Trophy winner, and the Rangers stunned the Flyers in a best-of-five first-round series. Of course, that was the one season in the mid-80s that Oilers failed to reach the Cup Final.
Ten years later, Vanbiesbrouck once again played foil as he led a defensive-minded Panthers team that eliminated a Flyers team that finished top of the conference in the regular season. Throw in a subpar run with the Flyers on a team that was a goaltender away from the Cup and you have a true villain.
There are any number of Devils players from the mid-90s to late-00s that could be considered a Philly Sports Villain. The captain of those teams, Stevens, made the cut. But the true difference between those multiple Cup-winning teams and the Flyers teams that came up short was between the pipes. Brodeur always gave the Devils the edge.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.