The Philadelphia Flyers were not the city’s first National Hockey League team. Read on for a glimpse at how professional hockey has evolved in Philadelphia. The city’s professional franchises, notably the Flyers, made it possible for high-school hockey to thrive and flourish.
1927-28—The Philadelphia Arrow become Philadelphia’s first professional hockey team. The team played in the Canadian American Hockey League, a highly-regarded minor circuit. [i]
1930-31—The Philadelphia Quakers become Philadelphia’s first National Hockey League franchise. The team was transplanted from Pittsburgh where it was known as the Pirates. It lasted just one season in Philadelphia, finishing with a record of 4-36-4, the fewest wins in a season by any NHL team in history.
One reason the franchise didn’t survive was that the minor-league Arrows were outdrawing them. [ii]
1935-36—The Philadelphia Arrows become the Philadelphia Ramblers. The following year, 1936-37, the CAHL played an interlocking schedule with the International Hockey League.
In 1938-39 the two leagues merged into the International American Hockey League. In 1940 the league was re-christened the American Hockey League.
The Ramblers finished first in their league three times, in 1936, ’37, and ’39. They were a New York Rangers affiliate and several former Ramblers played key roles on the Ranger team that won the Stanley Cup in 1940.
The Ramblers however folded in 1941.[iii]
1941-42—The Philadelphia Rockets replaced the Ramblers in the AHL and folded after one season.
1942-43—The Philadelphia Falcons join the Eastern Hockey League. The franchise lasted four seasons, finishing second in the regular season in its final season, 1945-46
1946-47—The Philadelphia Rockets return to the AHL. The team lasted three seasons and never made the playoffs.
1955-56—The Philadelphia Ramblers return to the EHL and remain for nine seasons. Like all the Philadelphia franchises before them, the Ramblers played their games at Philadelphia Arena at 46th and Market Streets.
1964-65—The Ramblers move across the Delaware River to Cherry Hill, N.J. and become the Jersey Devils. The team reached the EHL finals in 1966-67. The Devils and the EHL folded at the conclusion of the 1972-73 season.
1965—The National Hockey League announces it will double in size, from six teams to 12. The league had operated with six teams since 1942 but was dealing with the fact that it would be impossible to get a network TV contract in the U.S. without expanding,
February 9, 1966—Philadelphia is awarded an expansion franchise to begin play in 1967-68. Philadelphia was one of 10 cities under consideration for the six new franchises. The franchise was awarded on the condition that a new arena be built for the team, what became the Spectrum.
The other five went to Pittsburgh, Minnesota, St. Louis, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay area.
October 11, 1967—The Flyers play their first game and lose 5-1 to the California Seals in Oakland.
October 19, 1967—The Flyers play their first regular-season game in the Spectrum, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0.
1969—The Intercounty Scholastic Hockey League is founded with six teams: St. Joseph’s Prep, Haverford High, Conestoga, Cardinal O’Hara. Marple Newtown, and Swarthmore.
1972-73—The World Hockey Association launches as a competitor to the NHL. One of its 12 teams is the Philadelphia Blazers, which played its games at the Civic Center. The Blazers, which featured Former Flyer (at the time) Bernie Parent in goal, lasted one season in Philadelphia before moving to Vancouver and later Calgary. The franchise folded at the close of the 1976-77 season.
1973-74—The Suburban High School Hockey League is formed. Information on the structure of the league that season that year is still being complied but the latest information available indicates it consisted of eight teams: Abington, North Penn, Plymouth Whitemarsh, Hatboro-Horsham, Willow Grove, Philmont, Northeast, and Lower Moreland.
The Flyers win their first Stanley Cup, defeating the Boston Bruins in six games in the finals. Rick MacLeish scored the only goal in the final game on May 19, 1974 at the Spectrum, tipping in a shot from Andre “Moose” Dupont.
1974-75—The Flyers win their second consecutive Stanley Cup, defeating the Buffalo Sabres in six games.
The Philadelphia Firebirds begin play in the North American Hockey League, which forms from the remnants of the EHL. The team plays its games at the Philadelphia Civic center. The team won the NAHL championship in 1976.
The EHL folded in 1976 and the Firebirds moved to the American Hockey League. In 1979 the team moved to Syracuse where it played for one season.
1980—The Philadelphia Flyers sponsor the first Flyers Cup tournament. It featured four teams. All games were played at the University of Pennsylvania’s Class of 1923 Rink.
Archbishop Carroll defeated Archbishop Ryan in one semifinal game while Malvern Prep defeated Germantown Academy in the other.
Carroll defeated Malvern Prep two games to one in the best-of-three finals.
Game 1 – Malvern 6, Carroll 5
Game 2 – Carroll 7, Malvern 3
Game 3 – Carroll 6, Malvern 2
MVP: Scott Chamness, Carroll (four hat tricks in four games)
This year will mark the 40th Flyers Cup tournament.
1996—The Philadelphia Phantoms, a Flyers affiliate, begin play in the American Hockey league. The team played most of its home games at the Spectrum. The Phantoms won two Calder Cup titles (in 1998 and 2005) before leaving Philadelphia following the 2008-09 season. Today the team is known as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and plays its games in Allentown.
November 2, 2018—The Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference begins its inaugural season
[i] The Broad Street Bullies; the Incredible Story of the Philadelphia Flyers
By Jack Chealier © 1974 Additional information: Wikipeddia.org
[ii] Ibid The Broad Street Bullies