By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
After a rough end to the 1990’s with consecutive quarterfinal losses in the playoffs, and the ugly breakup with, and consequent trade of Eric Lindros, the franchise was back to looking for a new identity. The team had two faces during the decade, with LeClair and Recchi leading the way into the new millenia, while guys like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter picked up the slack half way through. The Flyers managed to adapt and change with the league around them.
This is the Top 5 Flyers of the 2000’s
Number 5- Mike Knuble
After a successful run with the Bruins, Knuble signed with the Flyers for the 2005-06 season. As one-third of the Deuce’s Wild line, He posted a career year with 34 goals, 31 assists, and 65 points. He spent four years with the Flyers during his first run, breaking the 20-goal mark all four years, and reaching 50 points three of the four years. Knuble finished his first stint in Philly with 114 goals and 221 points.
Number 4- Jeff Carter
After helping the Phantoms to a 2005 Calder Cup win with 23 points in 21 games, he made the Flyers 2005-06 roster out of camp. He finished the season leading the Flyers rookies in goals (23) and points (42). Carter broke out in 2008-09, posting career highs in goals (46), assists (38), and points (84). He managed to score 30-plus goals in three consecutive seasons and was eventually dealt to Columbus to make room for Ilya Bryzgalov.
Number 3- Keith Primeau
After sitting for most of the 1999-2000 season for the Carolina Hurricanes due to a contract dispute, he was traded to, and signed by the Philadelphia Flyers. During his early days in orange and black, he scored the game-winning goal in the longest playoff game in modern history (152 minutes). In his first full season with the Flyers, he set career highs in goals (34), assists (39), and points (73). He was also named captain, a role he would hold until his retirement in 2006. During the 2004 playoffs, Primeau recorded 16 points in 18 games, including the game-tying goal in game six of the Conference Finals. That goal helped the team reach within one game of the Stanley Cup Final. Primeau was forced into retirement after dealing with post-concussion symptoms during the 2005-06 season.
Number 2- Mike Richards
After being a key contributor to the Phantoms 2005 Calder Cup, he made his Flyers debut during the 2005-06 season. He started off with a bang, scoring a goal in his first NHL game. Richards broke out during the 2007-08 season, and earned himself a massive 12-year $69 million deal. He was named captain before the start of the 2008-09 season, he’d go on to post career highs in assists (50) and points (80) that year. He was a finalist for the Selke trophy in 2009, narrowly losing to Pavel Datsyuk. Richards finished the 2000’s with 283 points and a multitude of both NHL and Flyers franchise records, including three consecutive games with short-handed goals and three career three-on-five goals. He was also just the second player ever to score his first playoff goal on a penalty shot.
Number 1- Simon Gagne
Drafted 22nd overall in 1998, and making his Flyers debut during the 1999-00 season, Simon Gagne would go on to define the Flyers offense for the next decade. Gagne’s peak came in 2005-06 as a part of the Deuce’s Wild line with Peter Forsberg and Mike Knuble, where he registered 47 goals and 79 points. While injuries prevented him from ever playing a full 82-game season, he managed to break 40 points seven times, and 60 points four times. He finished the 2000’s with 525 points, more than any other Flyer during the decade.
photo credit: zimbio.com