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Flyers have preview screening of HBO Documentary "Broad Street Bullies" at Wachovia Center


HBO  and the Philadelphia Flyers  held a private screening of "Broad Street Bullies," the documentary which chronicles the Flyers back to back "Broad Street Bullies" premiering May 4th on HBO.Stanley Cup championships in 1974-75. The event took place at the Wachovia Center Tuesday night, and many members of that iconic team were on hand for the premiere of the documentary, which debuts Tuesday, May 4th on HBO (10-11pm ET/PT).

One of those "Bullies," Flyers goalie and NHL Hall Of Famer Bernie Parent, prefers not to live in the past. However, the always cordial Parent couldn't help but take a step back and soak up the evening's atmosphere.

"You look back at all the work that's been done with this project and you just have to say 'Wow!' exclaimed Parent. "Look at the excitement within the crowd in this room. If you just sit here for about a minute, don't say anything, and just listen to the excitement, it's incredible. I'm very, very, grateful to be a part of it."

Former Flyers defenseman Joe Watson was in attendance with his family. Watson not only echoed Parent's sentiments, but he recalled his reaction when he was approched by HBO to participate in the documentary.

"I thought 'Oh my goodness, are we (the Flyers) that big?!' asked Watson. "And they (HBO) said 'Yeah you are that big!' I remember doing a couple interviews that lasted about two and a half to three hours and they condensed it down to one hour. It's gonna be great, but I was kind of shocked because HBO makes this a very special occasion. Now I understand they have so much film they might want to do a second one. It really is great and it says a lot about the Flyers. There was an article about this in the Wall Street Journal today. My son called me from New York because he works on Wall Street. That really says something about the Flyers alumni. It really does."

Click on the bottom right for an EXCLUSIVE photo gallery of the evening.

Believe it or not, preperation for "Bullies" has been several years in the making, according to executive producer George Roy.

"We've been talking about it for a while," says Roy. "And for whatever reason it's always been cast aside for one reason or another. 'It's hockey. It's not the right time of the year.' Finally, the stars were aligned and we knew we had a slot that was going to be open around playoff time. I've always wanted to do it for seven or eight years. It's such a great story, it finally came together and we decided to do it."The Broad Street Bullies- 35 years later. Photo: Joe Vallee Sr.

"Broad Street Bullies" is the first HBO Sports documentary on the NHL. When asked why the Flyers were chosen as the initial team to be profiled, President of HBO Sports Ross Greenburg  didn't hesitate.

""The toothless smile of Bobby Clarke, the personalities of Dave Schultz , Bernie Parent and Bob Kelly," Greenburg said. "This was about character, a team that Ed Snider put together to win championships in a different way. So this was a very unique story: their love affair with the city of Philadelphia just doesn't usually happen. And at the end of the day, if you're going to start anywhere in the NHL this is the place to start, right here with this team."

"I know Philadelphia loves its Eagles  and they love their Phillies. However, you have to understand that when this team came here, this band of Canadians dropped into Philadelphia, hockey was not exactly at the top of mind in this city. So they did something a little bit different. They not only captured the hearts and minds of people in Philadelphia, they did it in a sport that had not done that (in Philadelphia) before. So this was different. At the end of the day, this team is revered for winning back to back (Stanley Cup championships), but there is also a connective tissue of a blue-collar team in a blue-collar city. Athletes that were out there in the public and involved with the community in lots of different ways. And when I say involved, I'm not talking about necessarily just doing charity work, I'm talking about them being drinking buddies at the bar. That's what we wanted to capture and I think we did."

Comcast-Spectacor chairman and Flyers founder Ed Snider  addressed the crowd prior to the screening. "This is story about a group of men who came together to form a team that will live on in the history of sports," said Snider. "Many of those players are here tonight, and many are still part of the Flyers organization, and I take great pride in that."

Lauren Hart  then took the microphone to sing a rousing rendition of "God Bless America," and was joined on the scoreboard by the late Kate Lauren Hart brings it home with help from Kate Smith. Photo: Joe Vallee Sr.Smith.

The documentary soon followed and constant applause could be heard throught the duration of the film. To say that this is a must for every Philadelphia Flyers fan is an understatement. The film begins with the formation of the team,its short but meteoric rise to stardom in just a few years, and how a band of brothers who played hard on and off the ice established an eternal love affair with the city of Philadelphia and its fans. Rare archived footage and colorful photos ranging from the serious (late defenseman Barry Ashbee having to hold the Stanley Cup wearing sunlasses as a result of his eye injury) to the outright hilarious (Schultz singing his "hit song" "Penalty Box") take you through this 60 minute joyride.

Interestingly enough, "Bullies" also looks at the perception of the team from outside of Philadelphia, and how their physical and intimidating style of play were despised by the rest of the NHL and by hockey purists in general to this very day.  From their post-practice drinks at Rexy's in Mt. Ephraim, NJ, to their grudge match against the Soviet Central Red Army team in 1976 (Bob Clarke STILL hates the Russians) and everything in between, "Broad Street Bullies" is THE most comprehensive and detailed look into the only major sports team in the history of Philadelphia to win back to back championships. From Don "Big Bird" Saleski,  Freddy "The Fog" Shero, Rick MacLeish, and "Clarkie," "Bullies" has it all.  If it seems like I'm leaving things out, I am.

And believe me, you'll thank me for it later.

Other HBO playdates:

May 5 at 2:35 a.m.; Saturday, May 8 at 11 a.m.; Monday, May 10 at 8:30 a.m.; Wednesday, May 12 at 12 p.m.; Thursday, May 20 at 6 p.m.; Sunday, May 23 at 9 a.m.; through Monday, June and Tuesday, May 25 at 8 p.m.

It will also air on HBO On Demand from Wednesday, May 5-7.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

Photos: Joe Vallee Sr. josephv985@aol.com

Special thanks to Ike Richman and Zack Hill for making this possible.