LAST NIGHT, the Flyers honored the original Broad Street Bully.
More than 33 years after playing his final game in a Flyers uniform, Dave "The Hammer" Schultz' name was lifted to the Wachovia Center rafters as the 20th inductee in the Flyers Hall of Fame.
"I left 33 years ago," Schultz told the sellout crowd, "Now I am coming back to stay."
Schultz, who thanked a multitude of Flyers greats during his remarks, set an NHL record for penalty minutes in a season with 472 during the Flyers' 1974-75 Stanley Cup championship campaign.
A video montage, highlighting some of Schultz' best battles with the NHL's bravest, showed his natural progression from youth hockey to the NHL. Known as a scorer during his junior career, Schultz said as a guest on Comcast SportsNet's "Daily News Live" that a trip to the Salem (Va.) Rebels in the Eastern Hockey League changed his career.
"It changed the way I played the game," Schultz said.
Although he finished that 1969-70 season in the EHL with 32 goals and 37 assists in 67 games, his 356 penalty minutes presented him in a different light.
"Dave Schultz helped define Philadelphia Flyers hockey," said Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider. "He played with a high level of intensity, always proudly defending the orange and black and making it difficult for our opponents. He never backed down and he fought hard every night, wearing his heart on his sleeve.
"While his temporary home was in the penalty box, we're glad that he now has a permanent home in the Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame."
Schultz, a native of Waldheim, Saskatchewan, took down some of the NHL's toughest; he tangled with Boston's rugged Terry O'Reilly an incredible eight times in his career.
Still, Schultz could add a clutch goal when needed, like the series-clincher he scored to help the Flyers sweep the Atlanta Flames in the 1974 playoffs. That season, 1973-74, was his best statistically - he finished with 20 goals.
Last night, he wasn't remembered for his goals. He was honored for helping brand a franchise. As the banner emblazoned with his name was being raised, a teary-eyed Schultz stood where he spent the bulk of his time: in the penalty box.
Once, after he pounded Chicago heavyweight Keith Magnuson, the Blackhawk told reporters that he had "no idea who" Schultz was.
It was a beating Magnuson would never forget. Similarly, last night was an emotional night that Schultz will never forget.
"Coach Fred Shero wrote on May 19, 1974, 'Win today and we'll walk together forever,' " Schultz recalled, referring to the day the Flyers defeated Boston to win their first Cup. "At the time, he was talking about my teammates and I. But I realize now that he was talking about all of us.
"Thank you for this great honor. For me, this is as good as it gets."
Sticking with 'Bart'
Just last week, Oskars Bartulis was a "hedge" bet against injuries to Flyers defensemen Ryan Parent and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. He was called up from Adirondack in case either could not play.
As it turned out, Bartulis did play, making his NHL debut last Thursday against Ottawa. Now, even with Parent and Tollefsen healthy, Bartulis is on his first NHL road trip, accompanying the Flyers to Los Angeles for tomorrow night's game against the Kings.
For now, Bartulis has bumped Danny Syvret out of the lineup and assumed the role of sixth defenseman.
"I've really been impressed because he's predictable, and I like that - you know what you are going to get," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "When he has the puck, he doesn't panic with it. He makes a good first pass. He'll hold onto it if he has to and he won't just throw it away.
"For his first two games, without having any experience, he's played very well. As a coach you feel comfortable when he's out there and that'll be important on the road."
In those first two games, Bartulis averaged almost 15:40 in ice time and blocked two shots while taking two shots on goal. Last night, Bartulis skated with Parent; he blocked four shots and was a plus-2 in 12 minutes, 27 seconds.
Winger Arron Asham played just 3:44 last night before leaving the game with a left oblique strain. He will be out 10 to 14 days, general manager Paul Holmgren said.
Asham will not accompany the team to the West Coast.
"He'll stay back and do his rehab here and continue his fitness,'' Holmgren said. "David Laliberte is coming back up.''
Laliberte has netted three points in four games with the Flyers this season. Holmgren said the Flyers will carry 13 forwards and eight defensemen on their four-game road swing that also goes to San Jose, Phoenix and Colorado.
James van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup after missing Saturday's game against Buffalo with the flu. John Stevens said it was a worse strain than what ran through the team the week before, which caused at least five players to miss practice time . . . Simon Gagne was spotted in the press box for the first time since his abdominal surgery on Nov. 3 . . . Smokin' Joe Frazier rode on the back of the Zamboni during the first intermission last night. Frazier and Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins traded fight tales prior to the game with Dave Schultz.