Month: July 2013

FLYERS 35 GAME UNBEATEN STREAK – part two

 STREAK 

Game 29 – TIME MAGAZINE

PART TWO Was there ever a time in your life when you felt on top of the world and wish it would never end? 

On the way to the 35 game unbeaten streak with the Philadelphia Flyers, there are some special games that stand out in my mind. We shattered the Flyers record of 23, surpassed the NHL record at 28 held by the Montreal Canadiens and the Pro Sport record at 33 held by the L.A. Lakers. Breaking the Flyers record was special because it was, after all, the second longest unbeaten streak in NHL history. But other games earn special mention. 

 The 27th and 28th games were both 1-1 ties. They especially stand out because we were within range to this great achievement and yet so close to blowing it. I may have played my best game of the streak in Madison Square garden to salvage the tie in game 27, stopping 35 shots. The score was tied at one after the first period and remained that way to the end. Bill Barber, a clutch player, scored our goal. 

  In game 28, the game that tied the Canadiens record, Pete Peeters and Greg Millen battled to a 1-1 tie also. Millen was outstanding for the Pittsburgh Penguins, stopping 34 shots, and almost took away our privilege of tying the NHL record. Behn Wilson scored the tying goal with less than 5 minutes left in the game ruining Greg’s shut-out but giving us a chance to continue our quest. What a shame it would have been if we had lost that game. 

  Game 29, in Boston, was the record breaker. The Flyers had not won in Boston Gardens in 5 years. But in this game, there was no question that we would be the winners. There was tension in the dressing room and nobody even talked about the record in specific terms. We all knew what was at stake.  We controlled the play from beginning to end. The best memorabilia I own from this game is a picture with our coach Pat Quinn on the ice after the game which made front page in TIME MAGAZINE. (see picture) 

  Another memorable game is the 34th game in Buffalo against the Sabres. Its notoriety isn’t just because we beat the All Pro Sport record with a 4-2 win. The game itself was really uneventful until about 7 minutes left in the 3rd period. Pete Peeters, my partner in goal, started the game although he didn’t feel very well. Leading 3-2 in the 3rd period, he got sick and vomited in the crease. Feeling a little “woozy”, he left the game and “gifted me with the stained crease” to close the game. We scored a goal to make it 4-2 shortly after I came in relief. Buffalo had a great chance that I stopped late in the game with the goalie pulled. Ironically, if I didn’t make that save and let a goal in, I would have been the goalie on record with the win and not Pete. (I’ll let you figure that one out…) 

  Every game after breaking the NHL Record was like a playoff game. Opponents and fans around the league wanted to be the ones to end the streak at all costs. When we finally lost (7-1) in Minneapolis, the noise still resounds in my head as the loudest crowd I ever heard in a hockey building. The North Stars took an early lead and the crowd smelled blood and knew that history was about to be made. We could hardly hear the whistle by the referee throughout the game. Yes, I did play that game. 

  Pat Quinn was our coach. Pat was ahead of his time as a coach in those days. He is a great strategist and even a better human being. He knew what buttons to push. Bob Boucher and Bobby Clarke were his assistant coaches. Jacques Plante was the Goalie Coach. Together, they were aware of the pulse of the team and gave the players a lot of freedom to express their skills and play their role. Keith Allen was our “classy and knowledgeable” general manager. I need to mention my good friend Joe Kadlec who did everything for the players and their families and who has a Flyer emblem tatooed on his heart. 

  Finally, I can’t talk about playing for the Flyers without mentioning the owner, Mr. Ed Snider. He is very competitive and demanding but extremely caring and a family oriented owner. It would have been great to win another cup for him that year. There is no question that the success that the Flyers have had over the years begins with his leadership

  We didn’t want the streak to end but what a ride it was…one I will never forget and proud to have been a part of… 

  HAVE AGREAT HOCKEY DAY

  Phil Myre

FLYERS 35 GAME STREAK – part one

79-80 Flyers

Did you ever participate in something so special that it will remain in your memory forever?

Was there ever a time in your life when you felt on top of the world and wish it would never end?

There are several accomplishments and memories that make me feel that way but none as memorable as the Philadelphia Flyers 35 game unbeaten streak during the 1979-80 season. This record will most likely never be broken because of the overtime period that was instituted in the NHL just a few years later for the 1983-84 season

That season would have been the ultimate achievement had we won the Stanley Cup. We finished first overall, had the streak but we lost to the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Finals. (Does anybody remember the famous off-side goal in the final game?)

The successful season wasn’t without ups and downs and battles along the way. I was traded to the Flyers from St-Louis Blues that summer for Rick Lapointe and Blake Dunlop. Prior to the trade, my wife and I suffered a family tragedy when we lost a baby girl (Elisabeth) to Respiratory Distress Syndrome three days after birth. This was the most difficult time of my life and still is very emotional for both of us. Moving to Philadelphia was a chance for a new start. But I had a terrible training camp. I had difficulty focusing and my performance was erratic. Regardless, I started the first game and won at home. The second game was “ugly” and typical of my play at training camp that year. I suffered a 9-2 loss in Atlanta, my former team. Little did I know that we wouldn’t lose another game until January 7th.

Following that forgettable game, we started to win and my focus and competitiveness improved as we progressed. Pete Peeters was my partner in goal as a rookie. We had a good team, but more importantly, we competed hard and had great leadership.. The core group of defensemen was Jimmy Watson, Bob Dailey, Andre Dupont and Behn Wilson. We also had rookies on defense; the 3 B’s: Norm Barnes, Mike Busniuk and Frank Bathes who were special people and had career seasons. Brian Propp was a rookie forward and had a terrific year. Our scoring leader was Ken Linseman and Reggie Leach scored 50 goals. What a “sniper” Rick MacLeish was. He scored a lot of big goals for us.

Our leadership definitely came from Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and Paul Holmgren. All three of those players were model citizens, they practiced as hard as they played the game and would never let anybody “slack off” at any time. Clarkie was the player I hated to play against the most but the best teammate I ever had.

Our “role players” were so important to our success. Mel Bridgman, our captain, defines the term “role player”. He was so efficient in all areas. He did it all. He was not a good skater but he won faceoffs, played special teams, he played hard, he was a smart player and always stuck up for his teammates. He also contributed offensively with 47 points. Any team who achieves some level of success must have support players who play for the team and are willing to play hard for short minutes. Our role players included Bob (hound) Kelly, Al Hill, Tom Gorence, John Paddock, Jack McIIlhargey. They were great guys who deserve a lot of credit for the success of that season.

The buzz about a “Streak” started in Philadelphia and around the league at around 18 undefeated games. The Flyers record was 23 and it also was the second longest unbeaten record in the league. The league record was 28 held by the Montreal Canadiens. Pete Peeters and I almost split the games through the streak and it was fitting that Pete played both games that tied the records and I played both that beat the records. We also beat the Pro Sports record held by the L.A. Lakers at 33.

Can you believe that we had only lost one game when we had our New Year’s Eve party? A celebration I will always remember.

There was very little conversation about beating any record in the dressing room. But it was there. It was a quiet confidence and a subtle determination that we would do it. The euphoria, the media coverage and the fan interest grew as we kept winning. We broke attendance records in some buildings. Many hockey fans and opponents who “love to hate the Flyers” made the games very intense as we got closer. Boston Gardens was the dreaded building where the Flyers had not won a game in almost 5 years. We stepped onto the ice with the conviction that we would become part of something very special. From start to finish, we controlled the play and won the game 5-2.

I am very privileged and honored to have been a member of the Philadelphia Flyers and to have been a part of this outstanding accomplishment that will be ingrained in my memory forever.

PART TWO OF THIS BLOG SHORTLY

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!

Phil Myre