By Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
So far, The Flyers organization has retired five numbers, Bernie Parent (1), Mark Howe (2), Barry Ashbee (4), Bill Barber (7), and Bobby Clarke (16). Also while not officially retired, nobody has worn number 31 since the tragic passing of Pelle Lindbergh in 1985. 2012 was the last time the team retired a number, being Mark Howe’s. So who is the most deserving player to be next in line to have their number hanging from the ceiling of the Wells Fargo Center?
This week I’ll rank the top 5 players who should have their number retired.
Number 5- John LeClair (10)
This was a tough one. There were a few players I went back and forth about giving this spot to, but ultimately it goes to John LeClair. His accomplishments are too great to ignore, a five-time All-Star, and a Stanley Cup champion. He sits fifth all-time in Flyers history in goals and seventh in points. LeClair was the first American-born player to record three consecutive 50 goal seasons, and only the second Flyer to achieve that feat, behind Tim Kerr. He was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2014. Two players have since worn number 10, Kris Versteeg during his short tenure as a Flyer, as well as current Flyer Brayden Schenn.
Number 4- Tim Kerr (12)
The picture of consistency throughout his eleven seasons as a Flyer, his point totals were always in line with the number of games that he played – only four seasons his point total didn’t eclipse the number of games played. Kerr racked up 650 points in 601 games a Flyer, good enough for sixth all-time, he also sits third all-time in goals. As stated in the LeClair entry, Kerr holds the Flyers record for four consecutive 50 goal seasons, a record that probably won’t be broken. Kerr also holds various NHL records, including fastest four goals in a playoff game (8:16), and most goals and points in a period in the playoffs (4). Kerr was oft-injured which hurt his overall output, playing less than 40 games four times in his Flyers career. There have been multiple players who have worn number 12 since Kerr, five different players wore it for a single season before Simon Gagne wore it for parts eleven seasons. It is currently worn by Michael Raffl.
Number 3- Eric Desjardins (37)
Is there any resistance to retiring Desjardins’ number? One of the best defenseman this franchise has ever seen, he never seems to get the credit he fully deserves. Wildly considered the most under-rated sports player in Philadelphia history, it’s about time the Flyers recognize his accomplishments. A veteran of 738 games as a Flyer, eighth most all-time, one of the few categories besides SOG (1674, tenth all-time) that he cracks the leader boards on Flyers history. A classic example of numbers aren’t everything, Rico recorded 396 points over the decade he spent in orange and black. Desjardins’ number has been worn by four players since – Shawn Anderson, Jon Kalinski, Harry Zolnierczyk, and the great Jay Rosehill for a combined 112 games. His leadership and top-notch defensive abilities should be more than enough reason to hang his number from the rafters in the Wells Fargo Center.
Number 2- Ron Hextall (27)
The franchise goalie leader in games played, wins, saves, and penalty minutes by a goaltender (476) Ron Hextall defined what being a Philadelphia Flyer was all about. Hextall revolutionized the goaltending position with his excellent puck handling skills. When you can say that you influenced Martin Brodeur’s playing style, you must be something special. Twelve Flyers have worn number 27 since Hexy retired in 1999, though nobody wore it for more than one season. With Hexy currently the General Manager of the team, retiring his number during his tenure probably won’t happen, but if he can bring a Cup back to Philly during his GM tenure as well, there’s no reason to not retire number 27.
Number 1- Eric Lindros (88)
I’m almost surprised his number 88 isn’t already in the rafters. My guess is the dicey way his tenure ended might have something to do with it. However, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016, so I think he deserves the proper recognition from the team that made him a superstar. He was inducted into the Flyers hall of Fame alongside linemate John LeClair in 2014. Lindros recorded 659 points in 476 games as a Flyer and took the league by storm as one-third of the Leigon of Doom line. The seven-time all-star lead the Flyers to the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals though eventually getting swept by the Red Wings. Lindros is still the only Flyer to wear 88. Injuries piled up and the fingers began to point which ultimately ended his Flyers career prematurely. Hopefully, the hatchet has been buried and he is on good terms with the organization, because he is truly deserving of a proper jersey retirement.
Brian Propp (26)
Rick MacLeish (19)
Mark Recchi (8)
Rod Brind’Amour (17)
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