Via @DanTheFlyeraFan on Twitter
598 players have played for the Philadelphia Flyers, some careers have spanned over a decade, and others a single game. Everybody had a role, but some were pillars for the franchise. Narrowing down the greatest players this team has had was no easy task, as there are so many deserving of that honor.
This week I’ll rank the most important players in Flyers history.
Number 5- Eric Desjardins
The Flyers have a long history of a sub-par defensemen, but one of the few exceptions to that rule is Eric Desjardins. Acquired in 1995, he went on to play a full decade in the orange and black before hanging up the skates. “Rico” recorded 396 points as a Flyer, second only by a defenseman to Mark Howe’s 480 points. He also won the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the team’s best defenseman seven times, as well as taking on the roll of captain for three seasons. A string of serious injuries took their toll as time went on, playing 80+ games only three times, and a full season only once in Philly. Desjardins is still considered one of the most under-appreciated players in Philly sports history, but his efforts night in and night out earned him a spot in the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2015, and the number 5 spot on this list.
Number 4- Mark Recchi
One of the best hockey players of all time had two separate stints in Philadelphia, from 1992-95 then again from 1998-04. Through both tenures he racked up a whopping 627 points in Philly including a 123-point season in 1992-93 and a 107 point effort in 1993-94, breaking the 75 point plateau five times total. Four of his seven all-star game appearances came during his tenure as a Flyer. He also won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as team MVP three times as well as one Yanick Dupre Memorial award as the “class guy” in 1993. Recchi’s output offensively ranks 8th all-time in Flyers history, making him more than deserving of the title of one of the greatest.
Number 3- Bernie Parent
When a player is still talked about 40 years after they retire, you know they did something special. Bernie Parent was years ahead of his time, putting up numbers that would make goalies today jealous, regularly posting solid numbers around .920 SV% and 2.70 GAA, which puts him at just about the league average for the 2016-17 season. His list of achievements is impressive including five all-star selections, the Conn Smythe in 1974 and 1975, Vezina in 1974 and 1975, as well as two Stanley Cups. His jersey number 1 was retired by the team in 1979, the second of five Flyers to receive that honor.
Number 2- Eric Lindros
Let’s ignore how his Flyers career ended and focus on the bright spots. One third of the Legion of Doom line, he quickly took the NHL by storm, registering less than 70 points just once in his eight years as a Flyer. It was his mix of size, grit, and talent that made him stand out among his peers, collecting 946 penalty minutes (which doesn’t even crack the top ten in Flyers history). On the Flyers all-time list, Lindros ranks 8th in goals, 5th in assists, and 5th in points, as well as tied for first in hat tricks with 11. The seven-time all-star won various awards including the Hart Memorial Trophy as the the NHL’s MVP, the Lester B. Pearson Award, and the Bobby Clarke Trophy as team MVP four times. Injuries prevented him from playing a single full 82 game season in orange and black. Just imagine what he could have done if he stayed healthy.
Number 1- Bobby Clarke
Was there anybody else that was worthy enough to take this spot? No. Clarke was hands down the most important player in Flyers history. Leading in games played, assists, points, plus/minus and shorthanded goals, as well as fourth in total goals, fourth in penalty minutes, fifth in power play goals and third in shots on goal. the 15-year Flyer retired following the 1983-84 season with 358 goals and 852 assists in (that’s 1,210 points in 1,144 career games). Most importantly, Clarke captained both of the Stanley Cup winning teams in 1974 and 1975. While his 19 seasons as general manager weren’t always positive, he took the Flyers to the Cup Finals three times. Another Flyer that had his number (16) retired, it was raised to the rafters in 1984. Clarke is a three-time Hart Trophy winner, nine-time All-Star as well as a Selke Trophy winner in 1983, Lester B. Pearson Award winner in 1974, Masterson Trophy winner in 1972 and a Lester Patrick Trophy winner in 1980. Without Clarke, the Flyers franchise may not have gotten off the ground in the first place. It’s impossible to overstate how much he meant to the Flyers, thus making him the most important player in history.
Photo cred- Len Redkoles/Getty Images via bleacher report