The might Soviet national team, also knowns as “The Red Army”, was a fierce rival for any hockey team. In the 70’s the NHL arranged several “Super Series” with the Soviet team playing against NHL opponents.
On January 11, 1976, the Philadelphia Flyers hosted the Red Army at the Spectrum in what was going to be a game to remember.
Sure, the Flyers won. But that wasn’t the thing people remembered. It was how the “Broadstreet Bullies” with captain Bobby Clarke leading the team, completely destroyed the Red Army players.
Heading into the game in Philadelphia, the Red Army was undefeated. The team had beaten the Rangers by 7-3, tied the Canadiens 3-3 and finished of beating the Bruins 5-2.
Now, entering the last game of the tour, Philadelphia was next.
“They didn’t like us and we didn’t like them. So we were ready for a war,” Flyers Hall of Fame left winger Bill Barber told the Flyers website in 2008.
The Soviet team featured legendary goalie Vladislav Tretiak in his prime. They had offensive power as well with players such as Valeri Kharlamov, Vladimir Petrov, Viktor Zhluktov, Vladimir Popov and Boris Mikhailov.
They were viewed as a hockey machine, being together pretty much seven days a week, 12 months a year.
When ending the tour in Philly however, the Soviet team would see what the Broadstreet Bullies was all about.
Midway through the first period, the score was still locked at zero. But that’s when the Flyers began showing the hitting game that they were capable of.
Moose Dupont threw a huge check on Boris Mikhailov, Bill Barber destroyed a Russian defenceman in the corner, and Ed Van Impe put in an open ice hit Valeri Kharlamov who stayed on the ice with the Russians protesting against the no-call.
The Red Army coach Konstantin Loktev was furious and ultimately left and headed into the locker room followed by his players.
“He had his head down. When he looked up to see where the puck was, I hit him. I hit him on the side of the head with my shoulder. It was perfectly legal. There was no reason why he should have stayed down. It was an act,” Van Impe said after the game speaking about the open ice it.
The Red Army team didn’t want to continue playing. Flyers president Ed Snide told Loktev that they wouldn’t get paid the $200,000 they were promised for playing the NHL teams during tour for the four games. And 16 minutes later, they finally re-entered the ice.
The Flyers ended up winning 4-1 and outshooting the Red Army 49–13. And surely, the Russian players will never forget the day they faced the Broadstreet Bullies.
“This doesn’t prove Canadian hockey is better than their’s,” Clarke said after the game according to the Flyers website. “It just means the Flyers are better than their best.”