The Jewish hockey player made his reputation as a brawler for one of the toughest teams in the history of the sport.
Larry Zeidel, who passed away June 17 at the age of 86, was one of the Philadelphia Flyers' first enforcers, a brawler before the team became famous — or infamous, depending on which NHL club you rooted for — as the Broad Street Bullies.
What makes Zeidel stand out is the fact that he was Jewish.
The Montreal-born defenseman played most of his career for the Hershey Bears, a minor league team affiliated with the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, located in Hershey, Pa.
Zeidel was eventually signed by the Flyers during their sophomore campaign in 1968, at the age of 39, where he played for two seasons while establishing himself as one of the more accomplished brawlers in the game.
His most famous fight was a violent stick-swinging incident against the Boston Bruin’s Eddie Shack, who had allegedly directed anti-Semitic comments at Zeidel.
Zeidel, whose Romanian grandparents perished in the Holocaust, also won a Stanley Cup — the NHL’s version of winning the Super Bowl — with the Detroit Red Wings in 1952.
"First, I played some senior hockey in Québec City, and we could play well and win, but the fans would rather have us involved in a real brawl and lose the game," Zeidel was quoted as having said in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “There were a lot of rugged guys in the league at that time, too, so maybe it was partly a matter of survival.”
"The other thing is that there's the big thing of being young and having stars in your eyes. The clubs themselves are as much or more to blame. They play up the tough guys. Guts, guts, guts is all you hear from a lot of coaches and managers, even as early as junior [league]. I was playing for some coaches and managers who would tell me, 'Go get him.' So I did."