Monday

Dave "The Hammer" Schultz

Often looked upon as the baddest man in hockey, Dave "The Hammer" Schultz's reputation tended to precede him.

He set the NHL record for most PIM in a season with 472 in 1974-75. He led the NHL in PIM in his first 3 NHL seasons and 4 times in total. He epitomized the Broad Street Bullies - also known as the Philadelphia Flyers - during their reign of terror to the Stanley Cup in both 1974 and 1975.

But hey, Hammer wasn't that bad of a guy! He was just doing his job. In fact, he was always troubled by hockey violence. After retiring from hockey he wrote in his autobiography ``I love hockey, and wish reckless violence wasn't part of it.'' He also criticized the Flyers style of play and resented having to fight Bobby Clarke's battles.

Nicknamed "Hammer" because of a devastating right hand, Schultz eagerly accepted the tough guy role once he turned professional. He found the rush intoxicating, although ultimately too consuming, and it paved his way to the NHL, wealth and status.

Dave didn't do much fighting at all as a kid playing hockey in Saskatchewan. It wasn't until his coaches suggested he could reach the big time a lot faster with his fists rather than his finesse that Dave transformed his game to slashin' and bashin'.

But Dave also proved he was a pretty decent hockey player for those who were willing to look past his penalty antics. He scored 20 goals in 1973-74 - the first year that the Flyers won the Stanley Cup. This despite sitting in the penalty box for a league high 348 minutes. He was also an effective defensive forward, although he was rarely given the chance to prove he could be more.

After devastatingly notable losses to Clark Gillies and Ken Houston, the Flyers moved Schultz in the Flyers in the summer of 1976. The arrival of fellow rough-housers like Jack McIlhargey and Paul Holmgren, Schultz was traded to Los Angeles for some draft picks. He was moved on to Pittsburgh the following year. With the Kings and Penguins in 1977-78, he led the NHL in penalty minutes for the fourth and final time. His 405 penalty minutes that season made him the only player in NHL history to break the 400-minute mark twice.

Schultz finished his career with the Buffalo Sabres in 1980. When all was said and done, the big left winger from Waldheim Saskatchewan played in 535 games and scored 79 goals. He added 121 assists for 200 NHL points. In the playoffs Hammer added 8 goals and 20 points and 412 PIM in 73 games en route to earning two Stanley Cup rings.

His single-season penalty-minutes record, which still stands today, is as unthinkable by today's standards as it probably was back then. He also holds the record for most penalty minutes in one playoff game, with 42 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 22, 1976. Going head to head with his archrival, Dave 'Tiger' Williams, Schultz picked up one minor penalty, two five-minute majors, a 10-minute misconduct and a double game misconduct.

While Hammer understood his role and knew it was necessary, he was never really comfortable with it. But he knew if he didn't do it he'd almost certainly be out of a NHL job.

"The fighting gave me notoriety," he recalls. "That part I loved, but (it) never came naturally to me. I had to think about it all time. I would sit there the afternoon of every game thinking about who I was going to fight and visualizing the fight. It was nerve-wracking. I was always afraid of that one punch, the one that would knock me out of my career. Fortunately, it never happened, I had some well-publicized losses but I never really got the whipping that would destroy my confidence and value.

"It was different then, the rules were such that you could really help your team if you scared the right (opponent). I knew what the Flyers expected and I just totally got caught up in it. I was this did from Rosetown, Saskatchewan, suddenly a hero in a city of two million, making all this money and being afraid of losing everything. I knew it was a special time and how lucky I was to be part of it. I did what I had to do to keep it going."

Dave, an interesting guy who's interested ranged from rock and roll (he once cut a record called "Penalty Box") to building model ships, now owns his own limousine service.

9 comments:

Mrsed3 10:47 PM  

In case no one has noticed: THE FLYERS HAVEN'T WON DIDDLY SINCE THEY TRADED DAVE SCHULTZ!! He did exactly what he was paid to do: be a bully. Not many people noticed that he really could play hockey. I loved him 30 years ago and I love him now!! Go, Dave!! Yeah Hammer!!!!!

Mrsed3 10:49 PM  

In case no one has noticed: THE FLYERS HAVEN'T WON DIDDLY SINCE THEY TRADED DAVE SCHULTZ!! He did exactly what he was paid to do: be a bully. Not many people noticed that he really could play hockey. I loved him 30 years ago and I love him now!! Go, Dave!! Yeah Hammer!!!!!

Anonymous,  9:37 AM  

I'm just glad that Dave was able to accept his role and adjust to it positively unlike John Kordic who couldn't and ultimately passed away dealing with the problems caused by it...that was terribly sad..

Supermanredblue@aol.com 11:25 AM  

Some of the goohs fought there way threw the NHL, but those were the days. Shawn Thornton, of the Bruins now is Bostons bull day.

stevefran1 9:53 AM  

NY Times: Review

What had previously been considered an exciting team sport that blended high speed, great skill, a good amount of body contact, competitive flow and the periodic dust-up became the butt of jokes and easily dismissed. Games delayed by nonstop brawling dragged on interminably, turning off viewers and angering network TV affiliates. The U.S. broadcast networks soon jettisoned hockey, and the league went almost two decades without a major TV contract.

Hockey had a chance to explode in the United States, but it imploded instead, and it can be argued that what the Flyers began damaged the sport to such an extent that the game has really never fully recovered in the image department.

These are bigger themes than the HBO film takes on. They are probably less cinematic, harder and far more complex to communicate. Consequently, HBO has transformed the Flyers’ story into an attractive, more narrowly focused feel-good story about a bunch of guys who went out and played for themselves and their fans, and what the rest of the world thought was and remains inconsequential.

But for those whose view and love for game extends beyond this one particular team, that’s not the complete story.


So what's left after this whole thing? well, an NHL still affected by it and some old men hated by 100million people. Ya, nice legacy.

Anonymous,  9:03 PM  

I don't recognize the NHL today. I played this game for 15 years and loved it. I watch it now and I just wretch.
People blame the Flyers, they blame the 70's they LOVE to blame Dave Schultz. The fact is .... people a fucking stupid.
I see more vicious cheapshots now than I ever did, hits from behind and reckless headhunting. Why? They've made it HARD for a guy to protect his teamates.

So get off your high horse. Dave Schultz and the Flyers did not put a black mark on hockey. Are you going to honestly sit there and belive that? Are you sure your name isn't Howie Meeker? I have news for you, Fans LOVE fights, they get up and out of their seats when they happen and they love it! And having a guy on your team that will go out there and make you pay if you try to play like a rat is worth every penny they pay him. Those guys have a brutal and unforgiving job.

gonna sit there and tell us that The Broadstreet Bullies have ruined hockey?? What have you been watching for the last 37 years?

Yeah...thought so.

Anonymous,  7:58 PM  

The only reason Schultz scored 20 goals that season was because opposing players were afraid to go near him. I remember poor John Van Boxmeer making that mistake as a rookie.

What he did to the sport of hockey can never be forgiven.

Rick Buker,  7:32 AM  

There’s no question that Schultz and the Flyers had a profound effect--for better or for worse--on the way hockey was played.

To back up a step, there were plenty of tough teams in hockey prior to the emergence of the “Broad Street Bullies.” The Maple Leafs and Red Wings waged some epic battles during the late 1940s and early 50s. Boston’s “Big, Bad Bruins” bludgeoned their way to the Stanley Cup in 1970. St. Louis made a living out of pounding their weaker expansion brethren.

Still, I don’t think there ever was a more intimidating team in their time than the 1972-73 Flyers. During an era when most teams carried one or two “policemen,” tops, Philly boasted no fewer than four sluggers--Schultz, Bob “Hound” Kelly, Andre “Moose” Dupont, and Don “Big Bird” Saleski--who topped 200 penalty minutes. In addition, second-tier toughies Barry Ashbee, Gary Dornhoefer, Ross Lonsberry, and Ed Van Impe employed a roughhouse style.

What made the Flyers so scary was the way they went about their business. They would target an opponent’s best players for abuse and dare them to do something about it. If an opposing tough guy didn’t come to a teammate’s aid, his club was virtually emasculated. And if he did respond, most of the time he was overwhelmed by Schultz and his cohorts. Either way, the Flyers gained a huge physical and psychological edge. Opposing teams literally tiptoed around the Spectrum on egg shells.

Naturally, other clubs were compelled to emulate the Flyers, leading to an NHL arms race that escalated for two decades. While the muscle-building spree may have detracted from the sport from an artistic standpoint, there’s little doubt it peaked interest at the box office. Fans turned out in droves to see Schultz and his fellow “Mad Squaders” get their just rewards.

“The rinks were electric back then,” noted one old-time observer.

Anonymous,  4:54 PM  

He was a product of his surroundings.A talented player that was encouraged to fight to get to the big leagues.Suddenly having a ton of money,the crowd,groupies.etc....It was easy to get caught up in the madness and success.Plus the fact there were noboby wearing helmets like today.The players were charachters Droopy Fu-Manchu moustaches.long hair,poofy perms.And just about every team had at least a couple of wildmen.They were larger-than-life. like the villians in pro wrestling

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