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Despite the menacing figures they cut on the ice, the Hound and the Hammer stubbornly insist they are misunderstood. "People think we're bloody animals, out there just to fight," says Dave Schultz (left), the pugnacious ringleader of Philadelphia's Broad Street Bullies. "Listen," says sparring partner Bob Kelly, "we're just two nice guys trying to do our jobs the best way we can." Uh-huh, and Bobby Clarke skates on double-runners. Says one NHL player, "Schultz and Kelly make the old big bad Bruins seem like a bunch of Little Lord Fauntleroys."

The name of the game practiced so successfully by the Hound and the Hammer is intimidation, verbal and physical. Rarely do they scare anyone with their hockey talent, although Schultz responded to one of Chicago Coach Billy Reay's jabs—"If the Flyers had to depend on Schwartz for goals, they'd never win a game"—by scoring hat tricks on the first two Thursdays of 1974. "Maybe now Reay'll get my name right," Schultz crowed. "But what he said probably is true. I know I wouldn't be here in Philadelphia if I didn't play rough hockey."

Without Schultz and Kelly to soften up the opposition, the Flyers certainly would not be leading Reay's Black Hawks in the race for the NHL's West Division championship. In the first five years of their existence the Flyers tried to play fast, clean, Montreal-style hockey, but after the first creditable season they declined to mediocrity. They were clean, perhaps, but not very fast or very talented. Then one night in the middle of the 1971-72 season the big bad Bruins routed the Flyers in the Spectrum—a violent whipping that evidently sickened Owner Ed Snider to the point of telling General Manager Keith Allen and Coach Fred Shero that it had better not happen again, or else. Shero, always tough-minded during his 13 years as a minor league coach, long had wanted to play a hitting game but the Flyers had lacked the necessary muscle. "Hockey is just a love affair when it doesn't have fighting," says Shero. "Fighting and talking are part of the game. Show me a team you can talk to, and I'll show you a team you can beat."

Shero changed Philadelphia's image at the next training camp. He told Kelly, a nondescript left wing who had scored a paltry 14 goals in each of his first two seasons, to start hitting—or maybe there would not be a place for him on the roster. More importantly, he gave Schultz, a mean rookie who had spent 774 minutes in minor league penalty boxes the previous two years, a regular job at left wing on the Flyers' third line. By the end of the season Schultz had served 259 minutes in penalties, Kelly had served 238, and the Flyers as a team had set a record with a total of 1,756—which was 561 more than the next-worst offender. Not coincidentally, Philadelphia also produced the league's Most Valuable Player in Bobby Clarke, a 50-goal scorer in Rick MacLeish and a team that finished second and later extended Montreal through five tough games in the semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Meaner and more talkative than ever, at midseason Schultz was well ahead of last year's penalty pace with 186 minutes in just 39 games, but Kelly had accumulated only 72 minutes, mostly because he plays only infrequently as a regular. As a team the Bullies have piled up 897 penalty minutes—282 minutes more than any other NHL team—and averaged 23 minutes per game in the penalty box. Penalties on both sides in a typical NHL game total only a shade more.

Philly is asking for it, you say. It is, but the Flyers are rarely damaged as a result of their transgressions. They have the league's best penalty-killing percentage, giving up a goal only once every nine times they are shorthanded, and they also lead the NHL in scoring while in that predicament. No wonder, then, that they have stayed ahead of Chicago. Indeed, they are the first expansion team with any real hope of winning the Stanley Cup.

Their style unquestionably attracts paying customers; so far this year the Flyers have sold out all their home appearances, at 17,007 a game, and have contributed to attendance records in five other cities. Two weeks ago they lured Canada's largest crowd ever (19,040) to the Montreal Forum and battled the Canadiens merrily in a 2-1 defeat.

What Shero likes most about the Hound and the Hammer is that they rarely take "stupid" penalties. "Watch them," Shero says. "When they go to the box, they usually take a player from the other club with them." Excluding his nine 10-minute misconducts, Schultz has been penalized 96 minutes, 65 of which were spent with a rival player for company, while Kelly has taken another player with him about half the time. By their own calculations, Schultz had 19 fights last year and Kelly had 13, while this year Schultz already has had 10 and Kelly four. Schultz stands 6'1" and weighs 195 pounds, Kelly 5'11 "and 195 pounds, and both concede that only one NHL player, 5'9", 170-pound Gary Howatt of the New York Islanders, has ever taken clean-cut decisions over them. "We've got to give Howatt credit," the Hammer says. "He's a smart fighter, but he takes cheap shots. He grabs you by the hair and then starts swinging, and we can't grab his hair because he wears a helmet. But we'll be around, don't worry."

Besides fighting, Schultz likes to chat with rival players. Sample Schultz chat, to former Canadien Marc Tardif: "Don't be a hero, buster. Leave my guys alone or you'll get it." To Dennis O'Brien, the tough defenseman of the Minnesota North Stars: "Hey, dummy, when you're on the ice your team is two men short."

Schultz freely admits that he and Kelly are marked men. "When a fight breaks out or there is even the slightest flare-up," he says, "the linesmen go right at us. I guess they figure if they can get us away from the action everything will be settled." While Schultz accepts his role as a tough guy, he craves the recognition John Ferguson earned when he was one of the most valuable Canadiens. "Ferguson," he says, "was a tough guy and a complete player. Maybe that's what I'll become, too."