January 11, 1976
Take a trip with me, if you would, to a time long ago. A time when tension between the USSR and the USA was at its height and the Cold War was in full tilt.
It may be bias, but I believe the turning point of the Cold War was the battle of Philadelphia. It was a hard-fought battle that left the Soviet Army team reeling.
The Red Army team was the best in the world. They came to North America to play NHL teams and show their dominance. And they did.
The Soviet team rolled through the North American opposition until they came upon the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers.
The Red Army team was built for speed. They were all about finesse and puck handling skills. For what they were, they were the best.
Philadelphia had a different style of play.
As the game began, it was clear what the Flyers' plan of attack was.
Hurt them. And they did!
The Flyers came out hard, finishing every check and leaving Soviet players dazed in their wake. They were super aggressive on the forecheck and were absolutely shadowing every player on the ice.
The real problems arose when defender Ed Van Impe checked the Soviets' top player, Valeri Kharlamov. Kharlamov was laid out on the ice and the reaction from the coaching staff of the Red Army was to pull their team off the ice.
As the Soviet team left the ice, Flyers owner Ed Snider and NHL president Clarence Campbell told the Red Army team to return to the ice and finish the game or they would not get paid.
If the Soviets thought the process of delaying the game would do anything but piss of the “Broad Street Bullies," they were sadly mistaken.
Not only did the Flyers play more aggressively and physically than before, they also attacked at full throttle offensively. The Flyers eventually won 4-1 and this, in my opinion, helped win the Cold War.
According to Wikipedia, after the game, Flyers head coach Fred Shero jokingly told low-scoring defenseman Joe Watson that he set the Soviet hockey program back 25 years by scoring a shorthanded goal on the great Red Army goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.
Milt Dunnell of the Toronto Star summed the situation up perfectly, "The Moscow Musketeers had to put a big fat zero on their aptitude test by pulling one the dumbest tricks in sports. They hauled their team off the ice. Loktev knew the conditions before he came. Nobody loves playing in Philadelphia.
"Once he accepted a game with the Flyers, under NHL rules, with an NHL referee, he was in the same boat as the Toronto Maple Leafs or Vancouver Canucks when they come to town. Loktev wanted his team to know what it's like to play the Flyers in Philly under NHL conditions. Well...that's what it's like."
Just another reason the Flyers are the coolest team in NHL history and why we are still the most diehard fans. If you can’t beat them, pound them into the ice!