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Flyers’ Fightin’ 4th Line: Broad Street Bullies Are Back

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Zack MacEwen, Philadelphia Flyers
Right winger Zack MacEwen, who signed with the Flyers on Tuesday, mixes it up with Detroit's Giovani Smith in a game last season.

For the Philadelphia Flyers, the Broad Street Bullies Line may be taking shape — at least with the two wingers on the fourth unit.

The Flyers avoided salary arbitration with popular right winger Zack MacEwen by signing the restricted free agent Tuesday to a one-year contract for $925,000.

He is expected to be on the fourth line with left winger Nic Deslauriers, who was signed as a free agent last month.

Deslauriers finished tied for second in the NHL with 13 fights last season, according to HockeyFights.com. MacEwen was fourth, with 12 fights.

 

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The two big wingers play with an edge. They are guys known more for their fists than their goals. They are two throwback players who are in the Dave Schultz mold.

Schultz, of course, was a fighting machine on the Broad Street Bullies when they won Stanley Cup titles in 1974 and 1975. But those Flyers had lots of talent, including future Hall of Famers Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, and Bill Barber, and borderline Hall of Famers like Rick MacLeish and Reggie Leach. Leach was on the second Cup team.

The game has changed a lot since those days, of course. Now it’s more about speed, a quality the Flyers lack, and most teams don’t have an enforcer.

The Flyers have two.

Entertaining players

Deslauriers, who is 6-foot-2, and 220 pounds, and the 6-3, 205-pound MacEwen will entertain fans with their physicality and their fighting.

MacEwen, 26, was plucked off waivers from Vancouver last Oct. 13. He set career highs in games (75) and points (9) with the Flyers. The Philadelphia Flyers’ fan club named him the winner of the  Gene Hart Memorial Award, given to the player who shows the most “heart.”

He had 110 penalty minutes and a minus-15 rating.

Deslauriers, 31, had a total of eight goals in 81 combined games with Anaheim and Minnesota last season. He had 13 points, 113 penalty minutes, and a minus-11 rating.

After Deslauriers signed a four-year deal (!) that carries an annual cap hit of $1.75 million, general manager Chuck Fletcher said the left winger would bring a physical presence and might play on the penalty kill.

“With the number of young players that we expect to be on our roster next year — and in a division where there’s a lot of big, physical players — we thought Nic Deslauriers would help our group,” Fletcher said. He said Deslauriers would “bring an element we feel we need to allow the rest of our group to play to their capabilities.”

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