Sunday, July 25, 2010

Old School Philly Goon Hair Pulling

Dave "The Hammer" Schultz was a Philly tough guy from 1971 to 1976. He was one of hockey's most famous enforcers and he holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a single season, at 472, from the 1974-75 season. He was one of the ring leaders in turning the Flyers into the infamous Broad Street Bullies in 1972.

Somewhat overlooked as memories from that era fade, but "The Hammer" was really a notorious hair puller. Watch these two fights from the 1974 playoffs to review Schultz's hair pulling fighting style. He will grab a fist full of his opponent's hair with his right hand. He then uses the hair as leverage to yank their head back and find an opening for a head butt or left upper cuts. Call this classic goon fighting.

Old school looks like girl's school. It would be hard to imagine the Rangers newest bruiser, Derek Boogaard, teaching the young kids attending his summer hockey fighting camp how to grab someone's hair and use that as leverage for a unfair pummeling.

So why was Schultz called "The Hammer," when the self-confessed hair grabber should have been tagged Dave "The Hair Puller" Schultz?" However in the inglorious annals of Philly goon hockey he is a folk hero. Figures.

Dave Schultz pulling Dale Rolfe's hair
Dave Schultz pulling Dale Rolfe's hair

This first fight is the infamous Dave Schultz vs. Dale Rolfe fight from May 5, 1974. This was game 7 of the semi-finals. Schultz gets the hair pull on Rolfe and then beats him bloody. Rolfe doesn't turtle, but he is clearly getting pummeled after the hair pull gets him off balance. The Flyers end up winning this game 4-3 and go on to win their first Cup.

One reviewer had these thoughts regarding the significance of this fight:
This fight signified several things.

The Flyers were establishing themselves as the toughest team in hockey and were dubbed the Broad Street Bullies. Despite all their talent the New York Rangers were gaining a reputation as a talented team that couldn't win the big game. The Rangers however were in a 7th game with the Flyers. The winner of this game would go on to the Finals...

It can be argued that the Rangers lost the series when this occurred as none of the Rangers helped their overmatched teammate. Not surprisingly Rangers coach Emile Francis called the Rangers fat cats afterward.

The Rangers from then on would get a reputation as a team that could not protect its stars. This was seen over the years with Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle, Brad Park, Eric Lindros, and Jaromir Jagr. Philly's reputation as a rough and tumble team was established and has continued to this day.
Puck Daddy interviewed Schultz and asked about the Rolfe fight and hair pulling. Here is Schultz's confession:
"I was told by one of our assistant coaches that this guy Rolfe was playing really well, and that if I had a chance I should hit him. I never thought I'd fight him. If you take a look at this, he shoves [Orest] Kindrachuk and then he dropped his gloves. So I'm going, 'Holy [crap], here's a chance.' If he doesn't drop his gloves, I wouldn't have fought him."

What about the hair pulling. Was that really part of the code back in the 1970s?

"Gary Howatt came into the league and was winning all these fights. We had long hair back then. You grab a hold of your hair, and you can't move. You're done. I don't know why I grabbed hair. And I even head-butted. I got suspended one time. I couldn't keep up with all these rules changes."
The second fight: Dave Schultz vs Bryan Hextall, Jr. (Atl) from Apr 14, 1974, at 16:35 of the 2 period of a playoff game. The announcer even calls out Schultz's hair pulling. FYI: Bryan Hextall, Jr. is the son of Rangers legend Bryan Hextall, who played for NY from 1936 to 1948.

Dave Schultz pulling Bryan Hextall's hair

It's ironic that the The Broad Street Bullies really fought like schoolyard bullies. Schultz was the main attraction and you could also say he had a mane attraction.

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  • Kid Dynamite said...

    Schultz never answered the question about whether hair pulling was a part of the fighting code in the 70's. It sounds like he got his hair pulled and lost a fight, so he started doing it. Code of the losers. He was a thug. The Rangers should have hired a bigger thug with a crew cut to kick his ass.

  • jb said...

    Schultz wrote in his book that Nick Fotiu was the only man he was afraid to fight in his NHL career. Fotiu was a Police Athletic League Boxing Champion. The only fight of Fotiu's I've seen is him vs. Behn Wilson from April 1979, he won. Schultz left Philly for LA in 1976 the year Fotiu joined NY, lucky for Schultz.