Tuesday

Gary Dornhoefer

"If you hear somebody say 'that guy is a Dornhoefer-type player,' that's a helluva compliment. He was a player who gave our team character every time he stepped on the ice."

That's what Philadelphia Flyers legend Bobby Clarke had to say in a 1978 interview. It sums up Gary Dornhoefer as a player pretty nicely.

Dornhoefer epitomized the Philadelphia Flyers glory teams of the 1970s - otherwise known as the Broad Street Bullies. With the likes of Clarke, Dornhoefer, Hound Dog Kelly, Moose Dupont, and Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, the Flyers were a rough and tumble team that almost literally fought their way to two consecutive Stanley Cups. Dornhoefer was as gritty as any Flyer, playing with reckless abandon as he headed into the boards, usually with his elbows just a touch high. He thrived in the corners and along the boards. Although he wasn't a great fighter, he willingly dropped the gloves. He played full out at a high tempo, giving everything he had on most shifts.

Gary was originally a Boston Bruin prospect, but spent most of his first 4 pro seasons in the minor leagues. That was during the days of the old 6 team league, so it was tough for many players to crack a NHL lineup in those days. However when expansion came so did ice time in the NHL for Gary. The Flyers picked him up in the expansion draft and the rest as they say is history. For the next 11 years the kid from Kitchener Ontario was #12 for the Bullies.

Because of his crash and bang style of play he endured lots of pain in his career, missing many games. Had he been able to play more, perhaps Gary would have gotten more respect for his hockey skills. Five times he scored over 20 goals, including 30 goals in 1972-73. That year he added 49 assists for a career high 79 points. For his fine season Gary was selected to play in the mid season All Star Game.

Gary was perhaps at his best in the playoffs. His unequaled work ethic and body checking is most valuable in the post season, but Gary scored some big goals in the playoffs - none bigger than in the seventh game of the 1975 semi finals against the New York Islanders. His goal just 19 seconds into game 7 deflated an upstart New York Islanders team. The Flyers won the Cup that year, and in 1974 as well. Gary put up respectable totals in those Cup runs too, scoring 11 points in 14 games in '74, and 10 points in 17 games in '75.

Another memorable goal scored by Gary is forever immortalized outside of the Philadelphia Spectrum in the form of a statue. The statue depicts a Flyer goal, specifically the 1973 overtime winning goal against the Minnesota North Stars in the Stanley Cup quarter finals by Dornhoefer. The series and score were tied at two. After over eight minutes of overtime, he exploded through the North Stars’ defense and backhanded the game-winner past Cesare Maniago before tumbling into the stunned Minnesota goaltender. The goal is widely considered to be the Flyer's first step towards respectability as true Stanley Cup contenders.

But it was the physical game that Gary loved to play best.

""He enjoyed the physical part of the game more than the finesse part," Bobby Clarke said. "He really paid the price physically to play the game. He received more satisfaction from a good body check than from scoring a goal."

"Dorny" had quite the effect on Clarke, who was said to greatly admire him when he first broke into the NHL. Rick MacLeish and Reggie Leach also are quick to credit Dornhoefer with helping them reach the heights they achieved.

Dornhoefer retired at the end of the 1978 season. He retired with a very respectable 214 goals and 328 assists for 542 points in 787 games. He also became the first Flyer to appear in 700 games.

Dornhoefer is still held in high regard in the Flyers franchise, and is a member of the Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame.

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