Former Philadelphia Flyers to become U.S. citizens

Bob "The Hound" Kelly in the Wells Fargo Center next to photos of himself and teammate Bernie Parent. Kelly and Orest Kindrachuk will become U.S. citizens Friday.
Bob "The Hound" Kelly in the Wells Fargo Center next to photos of himself and teammate Bernie Parent. Kelly and Orest Kindrachuk will become U.S. citizens Friday.
Posted: September 17, 2010

On the ice, they were famous for hoisting Stanley Cups and raising their fists to knock opponents senseless.

But on Friday two former Broad Street Bullies will be raising their hands for a different reason: to be sworn in as U.S. citizens.

Bob "The Hound" Kelly and Orest Kindrachuk, teammates on the bruising Flyers' championship teams of 1974 and 1975, will be among 27 New Jersey residents taking their oaths of citizenship during a Burlington County courthouse ceremony.

In a team effort of sorts, Flyers legends Dave "The Hammer" Schultz and Bill Clement also hope to become citizens in the next few months.

Gaining citizenship has been "something we've been meaning to do for years," said Kindrachuk, 60, a Saskatchewan native who lives in Medford Lakes with his wife, Lynn.

"It was time for us to get it done," said Kelly, originally from Ontario, who lives in Marlton with his American-born wife, Stacey, and their two young children.

"This country has afforded me nothing but opportunity since I came here when I was 19 years old," he said. Plus, "I'm 60 years old now, and I've never voted in my life."

The players' path to naturalization began this year when another former Flyer, Bob Dailey, ran into U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Phila.) at a charity function.

Brady's Flyers roots run deep.

He was at the Spectrum on May 19, 1974, when the Bullies defeated the Boston Bruins to win the first of back-to-back titles - the only championships in the franchise's history.

Brady was 29 and did not have a ticket to the game.

"I was a gate crasher," he said, remembering how he joined the many fans who rushed the ice. "Schultz was trying to skate the Cup around the ice, and he gave me a good push to get through."

Brady told Dailey to have the former players contact his office for information on how to get started.

"They were terrorists on the ice," he said. "But in their communities they are upstanding citizens and gentlemen. I was honored to help them."

The players had to fill out a 10-page application inquiring about their work, family, and travel history and pay a $675 fee, said Keith Dorr, a supervisor at the Mount Laurel office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Then they had to pass FBI background checks.

Schultz, who still holds the record for most penalty minutes in a single season - 472 - said his time in the sin bin hadn't been held against him.

"I got a clean record," he said.

To complete the process, the players had to take a 10-question oral exam dealing with American history, civics, and government. They had to answer six questions correctly.

They were given booklets to study with questions including "How many amendments does the Constitution have?" and "How many U.S. senators are there?"

And just as the Broad Street Bullies were expected to always watch their teammates' backs on the ice, the former players looked out for each other while studying.

"I reminded the Hound that the national anthem was not 'God Bless America,' " said Kindrachuk, referring to the Flyers' tradition of playing Kate Smith's version of the song before games.

Kindrachuk and Kelly passed their exams in mid-August, both answering the first six questions correctly. Kindrachuk's wife passed the test two weeks later.

Kelly, who was also known during his playing days as Machine Gun Kelly for the speed of his fists, did not hesitate when the immigration officer asked if he was "willing to bear arms on behalf of the United States."

"Tell me where to sign up," Kelly answered.

Schultz is scheduled to take his test early next month.

Kindrachuk recently peppered the Hammer with study questions during a golf outing.

"Boy, I better look at the book," he remembered Schultz saying.

"If the Hound can pass it, so can I," Schultz said Thursday.

Kelly's wife and his children and neighbors threw a surprise party for him when he came home from the test.

"They had red, white, and blue balloons and a flag cake," he said. "It was exciting. It's not every day that you get to become an American."

On Thursday, Brady had honorary flags flown over the Capitol in Washington in honor of the players, and planned to attend Friday's ceremony.

But just what type of citizens will the former Bullies make?

Kerry Fraser of Hammonton, N.J., an NHL referee for 30 years before retiring after last season, recalled the first time he was asked to help maintain law and order during a Broad Street Bullies game.

It was 1975, and Fraser was called up to the NHL to serve as a linesman for a game at the Spectrum against the Atlanta Flames.

"They scared the heck out of me," he said.

"But I think it's wonderful that these fine gentlemen are becoming U.S. citizens. From a homeland security position, I feel our country is a lot safer today than it was yesterday."


Testing Potential Citizens

A sampling of questions the Flyers faced on their citizenship tests:

1. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.

2. Who is in charge of the executive branch?

3. During the Cold War what was the main concern of the United States?

4. What was one right or freedom from the First Amendment?

5. If the president can no longer serve, who becomes president?

Answers: 1. (26th) Citizens 18 and older can vote; (24th) you don't have to pay a poll tax to vote; (19th) women as well as men can vote; (15th) a male citizen of any race can vote. 2. The president 3. Communism 4. Freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the right to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances. 5. The vice president.


Contact staff writer Mike Newall at 856-779-3237 or mnewall@phillynews.com.

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