All six of the new franchises were placed into the "Western Division", where the Flyers finished first in their inaugural season. They would be upset by the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs.
The Flyers, would prove by the early 1970s that they could challenge the original 6. Bobby Clarke would emerge as the expansion teams' first superstar as they became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup in 1974, defeating the Boston Bruins in six games. The Flyers, however, were derided by other teams for being thugs (earning them the name "Broad Street Bullies"), and rightfully so: seven players racked up over 100 penalty minutes during that Cup-winning season, and one (Dave "The Hammer" Schultz) sat in the box for 348 minutes - the equivalent of almost six whole games.
The approach worked though - they won the Cup again the next year, defeating the Buffalo Sabres, as Schultz set a record for penalty minutes (472). In 1976, they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the finals, and would make at least the second round of the playoffs every year until 1982.
In 1980, with second-year forward Ken Linseman leading the team in scoring, they would make the finals again, but would lose to the New York Islanders on Bob Nystrom's overtime goal in game 6. The tying goal in that game remains in dispute by Flyers fans to this day, as they believe the Islanders were offside.
The Flyers would return to the finals in 1985, behind the goaltending of Pelle Lindbergh (who led the league with 40 wins) and two 40-goal scorers, Tim Kerr and Brian Propp. They would prove to be no match for the Edmonton Oilers however, losing in five games.
Lindbergh would die in a car accident just after the start of the 1985-1986 season, and the Flyers would lose in the first round of the playoffs to a cinderella New York Rangers team. A rejeuvenated Flyers team (with Ron Hextall at goalie) would return to the finals in 1987, but lose again to the Oilers.
The Flyers stumbled in 1987-1988, finishing third in the Patrick division (after a first-place finish the previous three years). Coach Mike Keenan was fired and replaced by Paul Holmgren in 1989, Kerr and Rick Tocchet would score 40 goals, and the Flyers would make the Wales conference finals before losing to the Canadiens.
They would not make the playoffs again for another five years, despite winning the arbitration battle for Eric Lindros against the New York Rangers. Lindros, Mikael Renberg, Rod Brind'Amour and John LeClair (the latter acquired mid-season in a trade with Montreal for Mark Recchi) would shine in the abbreviated 1995 season as the Flyers made the conference finals before losing to the Florida Panthers. Two years later, they made the Stanley Cup finals but lost to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Flyers would get high-scoring right winger Mark Recchi back in time for the 1999 playoffs (after a very successful three-year stint in the early 1990s), and they would make the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the Buffalo Sabres. They repeated the performance in 2000, losing to the eventual champion New Jersey Devils. In 2001, they lost to the Ottawa Senators in the first round after a lackluster performance from newly-acquired Adam Oates.
Players of Note
Hall of Famers:
Not to be forgotten: