By now, if you’ve been paying attention at all to the Stanley Cup run of the St. Louis Blues, you’ve learned all about the glory of Gloria.
Blues players Joel Edmundson, Robbie Fabbri, Alex Steen and Jaden Schwartz were in a Philadelphia bar on Jan. 6, watching the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears in the NFL playoffs when the 1982 Laura Branigan hit played during a commercial break.
The song was such a hit with the patrons that the DJ kept spinning it during every stoppage in the action. The Blues, impressed by how it caught the fancy of the bar goers, determined at that very moment to make it the song the team would play after every win.
You must be a die-hard Blues or Flyers fan to recognize the pure symmetry of this development, that the most successful season in Blues history was spawned by a night in Philadelphia. It was 47 years earlier during another wild night in Philly that the Blues launched the impetus to create the greatest team in Flyers history.
And believe it or not, both happened on the same day of the calendar.
Blues Give Birth To Broad Street Bullies
St. Louis was in town to play the Flyers on Jan. 6, 1972. It started out to be a big night for the Flyers. Goals by Bob Kelly and Jim Johnson fashioned a 2-0 Philly lead entering the third period.
Blues coach Al Arbour stepped on the ice to complain to referee John Ashley about a penalty call as the second period concluded. Ashley instantly assessed Arbour a bench minor. Incensed, Arbour chased after Ashley as he left the ice.
A fan doused Arbour with a cup of beer as he entered the stands. Soon, 14 Blues players had joined him in amongst the spectators. Defenseman Bob Plager was exchanging punches with Flyers fans. Two other St. Louis players swung their sticks in the direction of the crowd. Both Arbour and a Philadelphia police officer were cut during the melee.
Emboldened, the Blues rallied for a 3-2 victory. In the press box, Blues GM Lynn Patrick and Flyers vice-president Joe Scott engaged in a heated shouting match.
“We’ve been taking it from you guys for four years,” Scott was overheard yelling at Patrick, according to Associated Press reports.
Following the game, Arbour and St. Louis players John Arbour, Phil Roberto and Floyd Thomson were all taken into police custody to be questioned about the incident. They ended up spending the night in a Philly jail cell.
Flyers Fall Even Further
The 1971-72 season would end in further embarrassment for the Flyers. On the final day of the regular season, while the Pittsburgh Penguins were dousing the Blues 6-2, the Flyers were in Buffalo, needing only a tie to earn the final West Division playoff spot ahead of the Penguins.
Deadlocked in a 2-2 tie in the dying seconds, a desperation shot by Sabres center Gerry Meehan eluded Flyers goalie Doug Favell. That lost point would cost the Flyers a place in the postseason.
Snider Demands Toughness
Angered by their failure to make the playoffs for the second time in three years, Flyers owner Ed Snider echoed Scott’s sentiments. He’d seen enough to make a solemn vow that his team would never be run out of the rink by any other club ever again.
In 1972-73, Don Saleski and Dave Schultz became Flyers regulars. Philly went out and acquired Andre (Moose) Dupont from of all teams, the Blues. Six Flyers topped 100 penalty minutes and Philly advanced to the Stanley Cup semifinals for the first time.
The following season, the Flyers ramped up the team toughness even further, terrorizing the NHL en route to becoming the first of the 1967 expansion teams to win the Stanley Cup.
The Flyers can thank the Blues for turning them into the Broad Street Bullies and creating a Stanley Cup champion.
If the Blues go on to win the Cup, they can thank Philly for turning them on to Gloria en route to their glory.