Fierce, in-your-face, aggressive hockey. A relentless forecheck, and never afraid to drop the gloves. A triple threat scoring machine.
Yes, of course I’m using examples to describe the legendary LCB line that donned the Flyers uniforms in the 1970s and early ’80s. Reggie Leach, Bobby Clarke, and Bill Barber were one of the more dominant lines in not only Flyers history, but in all of NHL history. Fast forward to the present day, and there’s a bit of a re-incarnation of the term “LCB”. An abbreviation that will forever be linked to three Flyer legends has suddenly had it’s services devoted to a different group. The fierce, in-your-face, aggressive hockey? Yep, this group’s got it. A relentless forecheck, and never afraid to drop the gloves? You better believe this group falls under that category. A triple threat scoring machine? Well, not so much. In fact, scoring is about the only thing this line doesn’t do.
The current Flyers fourth offensive unit is giving a new definition to the term LCB. What was once Leach, Clarke, and Barber territory suddenly has become the three letter term to define the collection of fourth liners by the names of Ian Laperriere, Dan Carcillo, and Blair Betts. While the threesome of Lappy, Carci, and Bettsy don’t hold a candle to Leach, Clarkie, and Barbs as far as Flyers history is concerned, the group is currently in the process of rewriting their own names into the Orange and Black record books.
Last spring, the Flyers made a Salary Cap casualty trade that sent fan favorite (and heart throb) Scottie Upshall to the Phoenix Coyotes for a spunky, out of control winger by the name of Daniel Carcillo. Carcillo became well known amongst the Philly faithful for his seemingly endless ability and desire to fight opponents during a game. However, he wasn’t much of anything on the ice aside from being a reliability due to his consistent lack of discipline and his taking of penalties. Then, came the playoffs, and a hungry-to-prove-himself Carcillo. He endeared himself to the Philly faithful in game 6 against the Penguins for his smackdown of the despicable Max Talbot and DID NOT change the flow of the game, regardless of what some people may try to say. However, as the 2008-’09 season ended, the Flyers were shown the door by a Penguins team that had something the Flyers did not: a legitimate fourth line checking unit. As the off-season began, General Manager Paul Holmgren clearly showed he had been taking notes.
In July, Holmgren came to terms with veteran free-agent tough guy Ian Laperriere, who has been an immediate hit both on and off the ice in the Flyers’ organization. Late in the summer – in fact, just before training camp – Homer extended a training camp invite to veteran center Blair Betts, who had most recently been with the Flyers’ divisional rival, the New York Rangers. It was with these two pieces, and the addition of Carcillo that Holmgren created what the Flyers had so often been denied of: a sold, checking fourth line. However, the season began, and the threesome were never set together as a unit. Instead, then head coach John Stevens continued to search for combinations that would work for his club, and never gave the LCB line a crack at it. That was, until, the Flyers struggled so badly that Stevens lost his job, and a Stanley Cup Champion head coach (who knows what it takes to win one) in Peter Laviolette took over as the Flyers’ bench boss. Once Lavy took over, the LCB line became a constant. And once the Flyers hit their stride – as early as last week they were the hottest team in the NHL with a 8-1-1 record over their past 10 games – the fourth line LCB tandem was a big reason why. In terms of a solid checking line, it’s hard to explain. As a fan, you complain about other teams’ checking lines, but secretly seethe at the fact that your team just doesn’t have one. However, once your team does get a checking line, you tend to just sit back, and watch them do their thing. It’s a strange feeling – you don’t get that feeling, “Whoa, this is our worst collection of forwards talent-wise out here, we’re definitely vulnerable for a goal.” Instead you’re overcome by the euphoria of, “These guys are going to outwork their opposing line, hands down. Who knows, they may even generate a scoring chance.” In case you were wondering, those are the exact quotes that used to run through my head, and now do run through my head on a consistent basis throughout the course of a game. It’s exciting to watch them play, and it’s even more exciting to watch them fight.
Blair Betts is not one to drop the gloves, even though he is stellar in the face-off circle and an unbelievable penalty-killer. Carcillo, and Lappy, however, well they’ll drop the gloves with just about anybody. Their today’s version of the “Bash Brothers,” and Philadelphia loves each of them. Carcillo has publicly stated that he is growing his hair out and growing a mustache to emulate the old looks of the “Broad Street Bullies” of the 1970’s that beat teams up – on the scoreboard and literally. Laperriere wears a face of wounds that likely number his age in years. Between the two of them, they are highly entertaining, and even more fan friendly. Carcillo consistently salutes the crowd post-fight, and Lappy is always one to get the crowd going as well. All three of them, including Betts, are textbook on what an aggressive forecheck should be. They have been a major reason for the Flyers’ recent turnaround and will factor heavily in any more success the Orange and Black have this season.
When Ian Laperriere signed with the Flyers this off-season, he made a simple statement: “We have a lot of guys on this team that haven’t won yet, and they want to prove to the hockey world that they’re winners.”
Whether this team wins anything this season remains to be seen, but if you’re looking for a real group of winners in the Orange and Black, just check out the fourth line – the LCB Line – who are doing their LCB forefathers more and more proud by the day.