How much has hockey changed since the days when the Flyers' famed Broad Street Bullies were winning Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975?
Consider this: The Flyers are one of two NHL teams – Arizona is the other – without a fight this season. For the Flyers, that means 19 games, no fights. Back in the days of Dave Schultz and company, it seemed they frequently didn't go 19 minutes without dropping the glove.
"How many enforcers do teams have now, one, maybe two?" winger Dale Weise said before the Flyers dropped a 3-0 decision to New Jersey on Thursday. "…We're not in that old-school mentality. It's great. We're getting back to bodychecking again and you can throw a clean check and you don't have to answer the bell and sit out for five minutes."
Weise, one of the more feisty Flyers, said the game is better now. It's much faster, of course, and still includes plenty of hard hits.
Just fewer fights.
"It doesn't mean there has to be a fight every time there's a good bodycheck," Weise said. "I mean, I think we're a tough team in here. I don't think anybody takes advantage of us."
Added Weise: "If the situation arose, we've got a lot of guys who can handle themselves."
This is the longest the Flyers have ever gone without a fight to start a season, topping the 15 games in their inaugural season in 1967-68. In the 16th game that season, Larry Zeidel and Pat Hannigan both got into fights against St. Louis after the final horn sounded.
Coach Dave Hakstol said he wants his team to be more physical.
"We need more of that grit, more of that grind," he said. "…There's room for a lot of guys to step forward in that area."
Asked if the game was better today with reduced fighting, Hakstol said there's a "hell of a lot more pace and playmaking to it." He called physical play the "honest side of hockey and is something I'd hate for us to lose completely because there's a certain level of honesty that comes with those hard areas of the game."
The Rangers lead the NHL with seven fights, followed by Colorado and Boston with six apiece. Those teams are all in playoff spots.