Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Bruins Weren't the Only Team to Scale the Glass

Hockey went through quite a period during the 1970's thanks in large part to the success of the Flyers and their approach to the game. Although much of the credit can be given to the Flyers, they only picked up where The Big Bad Bruins left off. What was really fascinating about the game back then was that there were these spectacular brawls which usually involved almost every player on both teams, was that for the most part, the teams would return to some semblance of hockey immediately after such a major explosion.

Most of these brawls started because back in those days you simply did not under any circumstances run a star player or take a cheap shot or liberties with another man without paying for it, usually immediately. Unlike the gutless, cowardly approach in today's game where hitting from behind and cheap shots are incorporated into part of the game and many of the regular perpetrators escape their due punishment because of the instigator rule and the inability of some coaches to properly assess what standing up for each other is all about and how important it is to get that message across to each and every player on your roster.

One of the more fascinating brawls I can remember happened in January of 1972 and occurred during a St. Louis Blues/Philadelphia Flyers game. What was different about this one was that it didn’t involve the Flyer players at all, but their fans and the Philadelphia Police Department.

This one started innocently enough when, at the conclusion of the second period, Blues coach Al Arbour walked across the ice to question a penalty call made by referee John Ashley. Arbour and Ashley engaged in a heated argument when Ashley slapped Arbour with an additional two-minute bench minor.Incensed, Arbour followed referee Ashley the length of the ice and up the runway leading to the dressing room. As they argued on the runway leading away from the ice, Philadelphia fans began throwing trash and beer on Coach Arbour.The Blues players, led by Bob Plager, came to the aid of their coach and over the Spectrum glass they went. The Blues players stood between two sections of seats and began swinging their sticks at the fans. In the ensuing melee, more than 200 Philadelphia police were called in to quell the riot.When the dust had settled, four fans were injured, and Blue coach Al Arbour required 10 stitches to close a wound in his head. Defenseman John Arbour also required 15 stitches to close a head wound. 4 members of the Blues, Coach Arbour, Phil Roberto, John Arbour and Floyd Thompson were all arrested. Both Arbours and Roberto were charged with assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and conspiracy. Thompson was charged with aggravated assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and conspiracy. Two police officers also received minor injuries. During the one-hour delay, Flyers vice-president Joe Scott and Blues vice-president Lynn Patrick almost came to blows, going nose-to-nose and Blues owner Sidney Salomon, who was in attendance, sued the city of Philadelphia calling it the worst case of police brutality that he had ever seen. Coach Arbour was able to return to the game and coached the third period minus his shirt and tie.

As stated earlier, after this wild melee, the teams returned and played the third period without any further incidence. And for those that think that fighting and sticking up for each other doesn’t influence or impact the game itself, it is no coincidence that after 2 periods the Flyers were leading the game 2-0. After the brawl, and minus 3 players who were under arrest and being detained at the Philadelphia police headquarters, the Blues came back and scored 3 unanswered goals in the third period to win the game 3-2.

7 comments:

Josh/Gill said...

Great read.

Posux said...

way to go, Hike....that was a fun read.

Anonymous said...

Old time hockey, it brings a tear to my eye. Great read! Pagey

Mike said...

Nice read Hike!

drfan said...

Oh have times have changed.... and not for the better. Great page Hike.

Anonymous said...

Where can I find a video of this fight. Great article!!!! Thanks for the memories!

Ratemaster said...

I watched the game that night, and will never forget it. John Arbor was a strange fella, knew karate and had a great fight with Keith Magnusen (sp) of the BlackHawks later in his career. A great memory.