Former 'Bully' Ross Lonsberry, 67, dies of cancer

Former 'Bully' Ross Lonsberry, 67, dies of cancer
May 5, 2014, 5:00 pm
Share This Post

Ross Lonsberry played seven seasons with the Flyers from 1971-78. (AP)

Ross Lonsberry, a quiet and very underrated scoring winger who won two Stanley Cups with the Broad Street Bullies, died Sunday night in Los Angeles from complications caused by lung cancer.
 
Lonsberry, 67, had battled the disease for 10 years, according to former Flyers teammate and close friend, Orest Kindrachuk.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to Ross' wife, Juanita, and the Lonsberry family," Flyers chairiman Ed Snider said. "Ross played six and a half seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, including our Stanley Cup teams. He was a hard-hitting, two-way player who contributed greatly to our success. I have very fond memories of Ross as a player and a friend, and he will sorely be missed.

Lonsberry began his NHL career in Boston and came to the Flyers as part of a seven-player trade -- then an NHL record -- from the Kings in 1972.

Early in his career with L.A., he always said the two places he never wanted to be traded to were Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. He ended playing in both cities.
 
In the spring of 1978, the Flyers traded Lonsberry, Kindrachuk and Tom Bladon to Pittsburgh for a first-round pick.
 
Of course, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound left wing won a pair of Cups on Broad Street, so being traded to the Flyers wasn’t all that bad.
 
“Ross was among the most underrated players in hockey,” Kindrachuk said. “He understood every aspect of the game. Knew where to be, what to do.
 
“He played me with me and Rick Kehoe in Pittsburgh, and that might have been one of the best lines I ever played on because Ross was reliable.”
 
He was the two-way, tough player who could score. Had 32 goals in 1973-74 and 24 in 1974-75 during the Flyers' two Cup-winning seasons.
 
“If you were up by a goal in the final minute of a game, you wanted Ross Lonsberry on the ice,” Kindrachuk said. “He was that reliable to make the right play.”
 
During an interview a few years ago with Flyers historian Jay Greenberg, then writing for CSNPhilly.com, Lonsberry talked about his role on Rick MacLeish’s line with Gary Dornhoefer in the Stanley Cup Final of ’75 against Buffalo.
 
“I don’t think I ever really had that killer, go-to-the-net instinct,” Lonsberry told Greenberg. “Dorny liked to go there. Ricky had to be free to roam. So, OK, I’ll be the third guy high and take some pride in it, matched against the big guy on the other team.
 
“No one was going to stop [Buffalo’s] Gil Perreault, so let’s shut down the outside. I played against Rene Robert, Dorny against [Rick] Martin and he just terrorized that poor kid.”
 
Kindrachuk said that what made Lonsberry effective was how strong he was. He hit hard and separated people from the puck.
 
After three years with the Penguins, Lonsberry retired in 1981 and moved to Los Angeles, where he had met his wife.
 
Kindrachuk said what he’ll miss most about his friend were their nightly “discussions that other people would call arguments.”
 
“He was such an up-front guy and he always had interesting things to tell you about the game,” Kindrachuk said. “He would never B.S. you.”
 
Kindrachuk spoke to Lonsberry last week. He was “upbeat” because of a new treatment that had given him hope in fighting his cancer.
 
The two ex-Flyers were to get together in California next month.
 
“He was a quality guy and he was so upbeat a week ago,” Kindrachuk said.
Looking for Flyers tickets? Buy them through the Wanamaker Entertainment Group.