Anyone who saw the recent HBO Sports special, "Broad Street Bullies," came away with the understanding that the toughest of the tough, NHL subdivision, are revered in a town where guys who frequently drop their gloves, ball their fists and rack up high penalty minutes aren't necessarily viewed as "goons," but as imtimidating defenders of the Flyers' honor.
Dave "The Hammer" Schultz certainly isn't the only enforcer to wear the orange and black. But his Nov. 16, 2009, induction into the Flyers Hall of Fame stamps the most pugnacious member of the team's 1974 and '75 Stanley Cup championship teams as the foremost example of a group that includes, among others, such frequent occupants of the penalty box as Dave Brown, Craig Berube and Donald Brashear.
Schultz, 60, played five of his nine NHL seasons with the Flyers and still holds the league record for most penalty minutes in a single campaign, an almost-unfathomable 472 in 1974-75. But "The Hammer," who has remained in the area since his career ended, is quick to point out that he also had a 20-goal season in 1973-74.
"I could play," Schultz stressed. "A lot of the so-called heavyweights who have been in the game really couldn't play much."
Which is why Schultz, who is 6-1 and was listed at just 185 pounds during his playing days, is so fond of the closest thing he has to a counterpart on the current Flyers, forward Dan Carcillo. Carcillo, also something of a downsized scrapper at 6-feet and 207 pounds, was the league's penalty-minutes leader in 2008-09 with 254, splitting time with the Phoenix Coyotes and Flyers.
"Carcillo can play," Schultz said of the left winger who was a healthy scratch the past two games after Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere came off the injured list. "He's been a good player who's scored some big goals in the playoffs. It's not like he's in there just to fight."
But if the occasion calls for it . . . well, Carcillo never has minded giving away a few inches and pounds to beefier opponents.
"He's not afraid to take on all comers," Schultz said. "He plays hard, he hits hard, he can score goals. He's been a great asset for the team."
Schultz hasn't conveyed his admiration of Carcillo directly to him, but, he said, "I do have his number in my cell phone. I probably should text him and just say, 'Good luck.' I'll get around to it eventually. Right now, these guys have enough on their minds." *