Top 5: Unlikely Successful Flyers

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

The Philadelphia Flyers organization weren’t given the nickname the Broad Street Bullies, they earned it. Then they spent 40 of their 50 year history defending that title. It wasn’t until the 2006 season when Bobby Clarke stepped down as GM that the “Bullies” era came to an end. That, however, means some players simply didn’t fit the mold that the team was trying to build, yet managed to succeed despite not fitting the Bully mantra.

Number 5 – Steve Mason

Whether you love him or hate him, Steve Mason was the best goaltender to grace the Flyers crease in almost 20 years. Mason was an average goalie in juniors as a member of the OHL London Knights and Kitchener Rangers before being drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006. He made his NHL debut in the 2008-09 season and dominated immediately, eventually winning the Calder Trophy for the best rookie, and was top three in Vezina Trophy voting for best goalie that season. The next three-and-a-half years were anything but impressive, eventually being traded to the Flyers who were desperate for a goaltender. Mason dominated for much of the next four years leading the Flyers to the playoffs twice. He finished his Flyers career third in games-played and wins, second in save percentage and fourth in goals against.

Number 4 – Danny Briere

Size is overrated in the NHL, and look no further than Daniel Briere to prove that. An absolute beast in the QMJHL, recording three 120-plus point seasons. Briere carried that momentum to the AHL in 1997-98 recording a 92 point campaign. Briere failed to translate his previous successes to the NHL, as he only had two impressive seasons from 2000-2006. It wasn’t until the 2006-07 season where he broke out with a 95-point season with the Buffalo Sabres. He signed as a free agent with the Flyers the next year where he was a force to be reckoned with for the next six seasons. While he slowed down as he got older, he was a phenomenal player with the Flyers and was a constant source of offense that was desperately needed.

Number 3 – John LeClair

Taken 33rd overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1987, hopes were originally high for the standout college player. He spent three underwhelming seasons with the Canadiens before being acquired as part of a blockbuster trade that sent Mark Recchi to Montreal. LeClair was put on a line with Eric Lindros and the rest is history. Along with Mikael Renberg, the trio formed the Leigon of Doom line and dominated the NHL for the next three years. LeClair became the first American-born player to record three consecutive 50-goal seasons, followed by two 40-goal seasons. Hopes were always high for LeClair, but nobody expected him to be so dominate for over a decade.

Number 2 – Kimmo Timonen

Drafted in the 10th round in 1993, Kimmo Timonen wasn’t exactly a promising prospect for the Los Angeles Kings. He was an undersized defenseman for the time, yet continued to improve every season, until he hit his career highs in 2003-04 with 12 goals and 44 points with the Nashville Predators. Timonen was traded to the Flyers during the summer of 2007, and immediately became a force on the blueline, so much so that he was still the team’s top defenseman at the age of 39. After the diagnosis of blood clots, he fought back and won the Stanley Cup in his very last NHL game. A fairly tale ending to a career that spanned 16 years, that probably shouldn’t have happened at all.

Number 1 -Dave Poulin

Originally undrafted because of his small size, (5′-11″, 190 lbs) which in today’s game isn’t that small, he started his professional career in Sweden after his college career at Notre Dame came to an end. He impressed during his only season in Sweden, and his coach at Rogle BK, Ted Sator, just so happened to be a scout for the Flyers. Poulin was brought to Philadelphia and put on a line with Tim Kerr and Brian Propp that dominated offensively for the next three seasons. He set a record, at the time, for most points by a Flyers rookie in the 1983-84 season. Poulin spent parts of six seasons as captain until he was traded to Boston in 1990. It’s not everyday an undrafted player eventually ends up captaining a team to two Stanley Cup Finals, but Poulin proved the old adage right, give it your all every night, you never know who may be watching.

Honorable mentions:

Braydon Coburn

Radko Gudas

Simon Nolet

Doug Favell

Photo credit: rantsports.com

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