Broad Street Bullies winger Lonsberry dies at 67

Posted: May 07, 2014

ROSS LONSBERRY arrived in Philadelphia from sunny California on Jan. 28, 1972, as part of a seven-player deal from the Kings, the largest trade in NHL history at the time.

He wasn't all that thrilled with the trade.

"The travel is brutal for any player in LA, but other than that, I loved the West Coast," Lonsberry told reporters then. "I'd be lying if I said the weather didn't make me lose interest at times - not during a game, but maybe at 8 in the morning when I had to get up for practice."

He wasn't even an instant fixture in the Flyers' established dressing room. He wore a toupee, but took his hair piece off to don a helmet - one of the few players to sport a bucket on the ice at the time. One day after practice, a new assistant trainer was looking for "Roscoe" in the locker room.

"Wearing his toupee, Ross walked right by the trainer, who didn't recognize him," longtime Daily News Flyers beat writer Bill Fleischman recalled with a laugh.

Soon after, Lonsberry became a face hard to forget for the Flyers, playing an integral role for their back-to-back Stanley Cup teams.

Lonsberry passed away Sunday at a hospital in Southern California at age 67 after a years-long battle with cancer. He was preceded in death by three other members of the "Broad Street Bullies" family: Barry Ashbee (1977), Bill "Cowboy" Flett (1999) and Wayne Stephenson (2010).

"My thoughts and prayers go out to Ross' wife, Juanita, and the Lonsberry family," Flyers chairman Ed Snider said in a statement. "He was a hard-hitting, two-way forward who contributed greatly to our success. I have very fond memories of Ross as a player and a friend, and he will be sorely missed."

Hall of Fame coach Fred Shero declared Lonsberry the MVP of the Flyers' 1973-74 Stanley Cup team. He skated on a line with Gary Dornhoefer and Rich MacLeish, usually in a shutdown role against players like Yvan Cournoyer and Rod Gilbert.

"No way it's me," Lonsberry replied. "It has to be [Bobby Clarke]. We have no stars. We're all equal. A lot of teams look to one or two guys, like [Bobby] Orr or [Phil] Esposito in Boston, for the big goal when they fall behind. But with the Flyers, the winning goal might come from anyone."

Lonsberry was a hard-nosed player, twice charged in court for on-ice offenses in Vancouver, British Columbia. In one, an incident while he was with the Kings, he was found guilty and fined $50. On Dec. 29, 1972, while with the Flyers, he was arrested and charged for "creating a disturbance by using obscene language and fighting with spectators with fists and by wielding hockey sticks against and in close proximity to spectators in the general seating area." Along with six other teammates, Lonsberry was acquitted.

Lonsberry scored a career-high 32 goals and added 19 assists for 51 points in that 1973-74 "MVP" season. He was an NHL All-Star in 1972. He was traded to Pittsburgh on June 14, 1978 with Tom Bladon and Orest Kindrachuk in exchange for the Penguins' first-round pick, which turned out to be Behn Wilson.

In 968 NHL games, Lonsberry netted 256 goals and 310 assists for 556 points. After his playing career, he moved back to California, where he started a successful commercial insurance business. Over the years, his battle with cancer cost him half of his lung and numerous other tissue, but he appeared to be on the mend in 2012.

David Ross Lonsberry was born on Feb. 7, 1947, in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Funeral arrangements were pending.


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