"That's my only regret," said the man forever known as "The Hammer."
Just four years. Ask any hockey fan to list the men associated with the great and notorious Philadelphia hockey teams of the 1970s and you will hear Bobby Clarke's name first, followed maybe by Bernie Parent and possibly the coach, Fred Shero. But in that next group -- along with everyone from Bill Barber and Rick MacLeish to Gary Dornhoefer and Reggie Leach and the Watson brothers -- comes The Hammer.
"Four incredible years that changed my life," said Schultz, now 60 years old and ready to cherish every second of his Hall of Fame night. "I put a lot into those four years."
The Hammer gave as much blood as he drew. He was the symbol of the "Broad Street Bullies," fighting every game and seemingly everyone. The left wing always played with an edge. Schultz was not crazy, but sure did a fine job making everyone else believe he was. When it comes to the Flyers Hall of Fame the only question is: what took so long?
In the four years of The Hammer Era, the Flyers won two Stanley Cups. Think of the top enforcers in today's NHL and their coaches would sign up for getting five goals a season from them. Don't think Dave Schultz was a hockey player? Centered primarily by Orest Kindrachuk and with Don Saleski on the right side, Schultz scored nine, 20, nine and 13 goals in those years for the Flyers. In the playoffs, he wasn't relegated to the press box as most fighters are today. In 41 postseason games with Philadelphia, Schultz had seven postseason goals and 363 penalty minutes.
"There's no fighting in the playoffs anymore, but in my day it set the tone," said Schultz. "You had a lot of cheap hits in the first period. Me and the other guys would settle the scores and the nonsense would be over with. You knew the refs were thinking, 'Okay, it's time to get Schultzie out of this game.' By the end of the first period in playoff games, I was usually showered and in my suit."
Strange but true, Schultz was drafted by the Flyers as a goal scorer. It wasn't until the club sent him to the Eastern Hockey League that he found his niche as a fighter. "Had a fight my first game and won it, then the second game and it just snowballed from there," said Schultz, today a sales manager with BP Solutions in Wydmoor, PA. "When I was in juniors, I was the most intimidated kid out there. People don't believe me, but I've never understood how the transformation happened. It just happened."
The Philadelphia fans loved every short Schultz shift, with seasons of 259, 348, an NHL-record 472 and 307 penalty minutes with Bob Kelly as his partner in misconduct. "My rewards were the respect of my teammates and the appreciation of the fans," he said. "This city has been wonderful to me for a very long time."
The Brotherly Love is a big part of this Hall of Fame induction on Monday. Schultz fought and played for Philadelphia for four years, but he's been a Flyer for four decades. Although he later played for Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Buffalo -- "should have won a Cup with the Sabres in '78-79, a great team," he said -- he always bled Broad Street orange.
More than 30 years since throwing his last punch, Schultz's career has been re-discovered by the YouTube generation. Almost all of his scraps are online, receiving hundreds of thousands of views. Schultz seems humbled that his reputation outside Philadelphia has been re-considered. "I think people understand now I was honest and played by the rules of the era," he said. "They also appreciate that back then it wasn't like I was playing the game for money." (In 10 years of pro hockey, Schultz made a combined $600,000).
"I look back now and can say, yes, there were times when all the fighting could wear on me," said Schultz, who reports that he's in perfect health. "But in the end, I was fortunate to have my career and enjoy such a blessed life."
Schultz will embrace all the tributes as he enters the Flyers Hall of Fame, finally getting his personal moment before 18,000 fans. At his side will be his sons Chad, 34, and Brett, 31. Chad has written a screenplay about his father's career that Dave says "will be like Invincible for hockey."
The final scene will be played out Monday night.