Over the Flyers’ 51-year history there have been many moments that have changed the direction of the franchise. Some for the better and some for the worse, the team has been molded into the storied organization they are today because of these actions. These are the top five moments that changed the Flyers forever.
Number 5- Pelle Lindbergh tragedy
Drafted by the Flyers 35th overall in 1979, Lindbergh seemed like a star on the rise by the time he started seeing NHL time regularly. He managed to win 40 games during the 1984-85 season, which culminated in a Vezina Trophy win. On the morning of November 10, 1985 Lindbergh lost control of his Porsche and crashed into a wall and was declared brain-dead a few hours later. He was taken off of life support the next day at the request of his parents. It was later discovered he was intoxicated at the time of his accident. In 1986 he led the NHL All-Star voting for the All-Star, making this the first player posthumously added to an All-Star Game. Lindbergh was just starting to develop into a star, and given the less-than-stellar history of goalies in Philadelphia, one can only imagine what he would have done in the future.
Number 4- Acquiring Eric Lindros
Lindros was drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1991, but refused to ever play for them. After a year-long feud, the Nordiques finally caved and worked out a trade with both the Flyers and New York Rangers. After an independent arbitrator ruled the Flyers made their offer first, Philly traded Ron Hextall, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, the rights to Peter Forsberg, 1992 and 1993 first round picks, and $12 million dollars for Lindros. Capitalizing on his size and playmaking ability, he quickly carved out a niche in Philadelphia. Lindros was later one-third of the famed Legion of Doom line and carried the Flyers to the 1997 Stanley Cup Final, though losing to the Red Wings. Lindros was eventually traded to the Rangers in the summer of 2001 and left the Flyers in the top five in assists and points and eighth in goals.
Number 3- Drafting Bobby Clarke
Falling to the second round of the 1969 NHL draft because of his diabetes diagnosis, the Flyers took a chance and drafted Bobby Clarke 17th overall. Both the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens put in a trade offer “the Flyers management could hardly refuse” but the Flyers ended up refusing both offers and that shaped the entire history of the franchise. Clarke would go on to play 15 seasons as a Flyer and finished with the most games played (1144), most assists (852), and most points (1210) in Flyers history. He is also responsible for captaining the Flyers to their two Stanley Cup victories in 1974 and 1975.
Number 2- Passing of Ed Snider
The man who was responsible for bringing hockey to Philadelphia, Ed Snider was the heart and soul of the Flyers for 48 years. The NHL awarded Philadelphia a franchise in February of 1966, and the building known as the Spectrum was under construction. The Flyers played their inaugural season in 1967 and later won two straight Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. Snider was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988 and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. Snider died on April 11, 2016 after a two-year battle with bladder cancer. The team wore a patch in his honor during the 2016-17 season.
Number 1- First Stanley Cup
After a strong 1973-74 season where the Flyers finished in first place in the West Division with a 50-16-12 record, the Flyers were ready for their fifth postseason run in 1974. They swept the Atlanta Flames in the first round, and needed all seven games to dispatch the Rangers in the second round. The Flyers then faced the top seed in the east division, the Boston Bruins, who were looking for their third Cup in five years. To everyone’s surprise, the Flyers beat the Bruins in six games. They became the first post-expansion team to win a Stanley Cup.
Drafting Claude Giroux- After being snubbed in the 2004 and 2005 OHL entry draft, he made the Gatineau Olympiques after a try out. Giroux scored 321 points during his three years in the QMJHL and was drafted 22nd overall in 2006 by the Philadelphia Flyers. Even though he was slow out of the gate, playing 33 games in the AHL after a disappointing training camp, he was called up after Christmas and never looked back. He rose through the Flyers ranks and was named captain in January of 2013. Now in the peak of his career, he already sits fourth all-time in Flyers history in points, second in assists, and fourth in games played. By the time his career winds down, he may be second only to Bobby Clarke as the greatest Flyer of all time.
Second Stanley Cup- Not only were the Flyers the first expansion team to win a Stanley Cup, they were also the first to repeat. The 1975 Stanley Cup Final was the first contested between two non-Original Six teams. The Flyers Cup team in 1975 was also the last team to be composed entirely of Canadian-born players. Now with the fun facts out of the way, The Flyers finished atop the new Clarence Campbell Conference during the 1974-75 season and swept Toronto in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. the Islanders took them to seven games in the semifinals, but the Flyers came out on top. Philadelphia clashed with the Buffalo Sabres in the Final, eventually beating them in six games. Bernie Parent became the first player to win consecutive Conn Smythe Trophies.
Trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter- It’s not often you see two franchise cornerstone players traded away in the same day, but that is exactly what happened on June 23, 2011. The Flyers dealt Mike Richards to the LA Kings and Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets mainly so they could sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a massive contract. There were also rumors that their hard-partying ways influenced the Flyers to make the blockbuster trades. Whatever the real story was, the Flyers managed to come out of both trades ahead, as they acquired Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, and Brayden Schenn, all pillars of the Flyers roster over the past seven years.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com