By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
If I asked you to name the most important Flyers in history, I’m sure your list would look something like this. Well, what about the players that had great tenures as a Flyer, but don’t get the credit they deserve? There are quite a few players that left their mark on the franchise but just don’t get brought up when the debate rages on. Don’t worry, that’s why I’m here! To make lists and give players the recognition they deserve, because trust me, there is no greater honor than being put on a Dan The Flyera Fan Top 5 list.
This week I’ll rank the top 5 Underrated Players in Flyers history.
Number 5- Keith Primeau
When you hear the name “Keith Primeau”, my guess is your first thought would be his goal that ended the third-longest playoff game in NHL history at 152:01 in 2000. While that was impressive, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Primeau had a career year in 2000-01 recording 34 goals and 73 points before being named the captain early the following campaign. He posted solid numbers for the next two seasons in a defense-oriented role. The former Hurricane was tasked with leading the team through the 2004 playoffs and brought them one game within the Cup finals, before losing to Tampa Bay in game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals. His 15-year career was cut short after suffering from post-concussion syndrome. His contributions to the Flyers are definitely under the radar.
Number 4- Ilkka Sinisalo
The recently passed Sinisalo revolutionized the way the NHL looked at Finnish hockey. One of the first Finnish-born players in the NHL, his talents were put on display courtesy of the Flyers. He recorded 408 points in 526 games in orange and black which was by far the most successful run of his career. He was a European scout for the Flyers from 2004 until his death in April. His contributions earned him a spot in the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997, but he never seems to get the credit he deserves in the NHL.
Number 3-Murray Craven
Acquired in a big trade that sent Darryl Sittler out of town, Craven quickly rose to be one of the leaders of the team. His 61-point campaign in 1984-85 helped lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals before eventually losing to the Oilers. He also led the team back to the Cup Finals in 1987. After an injury-riddled season in 1991-92, and a struggling Flyers team around him, he was traded to the Hartford Whalers for Kevin Dineen. Through eight seasons and 523 games, he registered 152 goals and 424 points. Still one of the top two-way forwards the franchise has seen. Had the Flyers not gone on a five-year playoff drought, who knows how successful he would have gone on to be in Philadelphia.
Number 2- Gary Dornhoefer
I caught some flack for leaving Dornhoefer off the greatest Flyers of all time list, well here is this time to get the credit he deserves. Taken by the Flyers during the 1967 Expansion Draft from Boston, he would go on to be a cornerstone for the Flyers for the next 11 years. A member of the ’74 and ’75 Cup teams, he developed a reputation as a hard hitter fully capable of scoring. Never once playing a full season due to his rough playing style; that didn’t stop him from breaking the 40-point mark in nine of his 11 seasons in Philly. In total, he recorded 518 points and 1256 penalty minutes in 735 games as a Flyer. 735 games played and 1256 penalty minutes is good for eighth all-time among Flyers in both categories. Dornhoefer also served as a member of the broadcast team for 13 years. For all that he did for the organization, he certainly flies under the radar when the debate of the best Flyer comes up.
Number 1-Paul Holmgren
Wait, put down the pitchforks and torches and hear me out. His time as a player in orange and black didn’t go nearly as bad as his GM tenure did. Homer played nine seasons as a Flyer from 1975 to 1984, recording 309 points and a whopping 1600 penalty minutes, good enough for second all-time in Philadelphia. Holmgren also served as both an assistant coach, head coach, director of pro scouting, director of player personnel, assistant GM, General Manager, and President of the Flyers. He is the first U.S.-born player to record a hat trick in the Stanley Cup Finals, and if that’s not impressive enough, he also holds the Flyers record with two Gordie Howe hat tricks on the playoffs. His crazy mishandling of the team during his GM tenure has hurt his reputation, but it’s hard to ignore all he has done for the franchise.
photo credit: sports.yahoo.com