Editor's Note: We bumped this up to the front page back on April 14th, the day after the Flyers held a private screening of the new HBO documentary, "Broad Street Bullies." With the documentary premiering on HBO tonight at 10:00 PM ET, we're pushing this up one more time for anybody that missed it.
Many people here have been eagerly awaiting the HBO Documentary that is set to air on May 4th, and I happened to be able to attend tonight's screening at the Wachovia Center. A recap of tonight's events and a preview of what to expect from the documentary are after the jump, so stop reading now if you don't want more info. I'll do my best to minimize any major spoilers that might ruin the fun.
It started with some general welcoming remarks from Ed Snider and the president of HBO Sports, who emphasized that this is the very first HBO Sports Documentary to focus on a National Hockey League topic (to which I said under my breath "Ha! Take that Original Six teams", but totally meant in good fun). Lauren Hart came out to sing God Bless America, and of course they gave it the full Kate Smith duet treatment. It was mentioned by others here a few days ago that the tradition is more about energizing the fans than the players, and to have them use it here illustrates that point. However I'd never seen it in person, and the atmosphere was palpable even though only a few sections of the building were used, so it definitely still has some power if the right fans are in the building.
The documentary itself was not about the entire lifespan of the organization, rather it went from the beginning to the end of the 1976 season. It emphasized how the team bonded with the city and how the players bonded with each other as much as it covered what happened on the ice. It also tried hard to make it clear that the team was not as one dimensional as the are painted.
The biggest highlight is a long series of hIlarious quotes and anecdotes from the players, with some particularly notable zingers from Bill Clement and Ed Van Impe (that I won't repeat so that you can be surprised). There was also plenty of context to help younger fans understand some traditions that still exist, among other topics.
The end of the documentary was met by an extended standing ovation from the crowd and a "Let's go Flyers" chant. At the end, quick appearances were made by many Bullies players, but none of them spoke. From what I can remember, In attendance were were Bobby Clarke, Gary Dornhoefer, Bernie Parent, Larry Goodenough, Ed Van Impe, Don Saleski, Dave Schultz, and Barry Ashbee's wife Donna; but I know I forgot several more.
All in all it was very well made, and it seemed none in attendance were disappointed. I hoped maybe we could schedule a viewing party to watch it together, but the air dates and times make that nearly impossible unless we are able to watch it using some form of HBO on Demand. I hope everyone else likes it as much as my group did. In my personal opinion it lived up to the hype very well. Any nitpicks I had were minor and few.