History of a Number: 8

Hockey sweaters are one of the most iconic pieces of sports memorabilia in the world. For many players, they have their own special meaning for the number the select. Whether it be from a childhood hero or just an available number, going through a number’s history is fascinating.

The number 8 was first claimed by left wing Don Blackburn who was a dominate force on the Bruins AHL team, leading him to be selected by the Flyers in the 1967 expansion draft. Blackburn was a regular in the Flyers early lineup for the first two years of the teams existence. He played 115 games as a Flyer before he was traded to the Rangers on June 6, 1969 for Reggie Flemming.

The next man to wear number 8 was the Flyers 1968 first round pick Lew Morrison. He made the Flyers roster to start the 1969-70 season. He played for the Flyers for three years before he was selected by the newly formed Atlanta Flames on June 6, 1972.

Another Flyers draft pick, Dave Schultz, was next to wear number 8. He made his Flyers debut in early 1973 and became a famous member of the Broad Street Bullies. Schultz racked up 1,386 penalty minutes during his four seasons in Philadelphia, including a single season record 472 minutes in 1974-75. Schultz was traded to the LA Kings on September 29, 1976 for a second round pick and a fourth round pick.

The number laid dormant for the rest of the 1976-77 season but was brought back by left wing Dave Hoyda, who played parts of the next two seasons with the Flyers. He was claimed by the Winnipeg Jets during the 1979 expansion draft on June 13, 1979.

Yet anther Flyers first round pick, Blake Wesley, wore number 8. He first played two games at the end of the 1979-80 season before earning a full-time roster spot with the Flyers in the 1980-81 season. He played 50 more games with the Flyers that season before he was traded to Hartford as part the blockbuster Ray Allison deal in the summer of 1981.

The number 8 was claimed the following season by Swedish defenseman Thomas Eriksson. He wore number 8 for only one season before switching to number 26.

Brad Marsh took the number after he was acquired by the Flyers midway through the 1981-82 season. He became a top guy for the Flyers during his stint in Philly, playing a major role in the Flyers 1987 Stanley Cup Final run. Marsh was claimed on waivers by Toronto before the start of the 1988-89 season.

Moe Mantha wore the number 8 for 30 games in 1989 after being acquired in a trade with Minnesota. He was claimed by Winnipeg during the offseason.

Murray Baron wore number 8 during his NHL debut in late 1990 and the following season in 1990-91. He played 83 games as a Flyer before he was traded to St. Louis on September 22, 1991 as part of a deal that brought Rod Brind’Amour to Philly.

Five months later in mid February of 1992, the Flyers made a blockbuster deal with the Penguins to acquire star forward Mark Recchi, who took the vacant number 8. He played two full successful seasons in Philly before he was dealt in yet another huge deal, this time with the Canadiens as part of the deal that brought John LeClair and Eric Desjardins to Philly in February of 1995.

Recchi would later be traded back to Philly in 1999, but three players wore number 8 in the meantime.

10 days after Recchi was traded, the Flyers acquired Shawn Antoski from the Canucks for Josef Beranek. Antoski spent the rest of the 1994-95 season as well as all of the 1995-96 season with the Flyers but was signed as a free agent by the Penguins in the summer of 1996.

The Flyers claimed journeyman Michel Petit on waivers from the Oilers on January 17, 1997. He played the rest of that season, 20 games, in Philly then was signed by the Coyotes during the summer of 1997. At the time, that was an NHL record at the time as the Coyotes were his 10th team.

Jody Hull was signed with the Flyers as a free agent on October 7, 1998. He played one season in Philadelphia but he was claimed by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999 Expansion Draft. Hull was later traded back to Philadelphia for cash considerations on October 15, 1999 but took number 11 because the Flyers had re-acquired Mark Recchi the spring before.

Recchi was traded back to Philly on March 10, 1999 where he would play for the next five years. He signed as a free agent in Pittsburgh on July 4, 2009, thus ending his Flyers tenure for good.

Number 8 laid untouched for over two years until the Flyers signed Geoff Sanderson in the summer of 2006, but he didn’t play a game until 2007. He was traded on July 1, 2007 to the Oilers, thus ending his tenure as a Flyer just 18 days short of a full year.

Later, in October of 2007 the Flyers signed defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick who took number 8 upon his arrival. He only played 19 games as a Flyer as he spent the rest of his season with the Phantoms.

In July of 2010 the Flyers acquired defenseman Matt Walker from the Lightning for forward Simon Gagne. He played four games with the Flyers during the 2010-11 season and four games during the 2011-12 season. His three seasons in Philly were marred by nagging back and hip injuries that limited him to eight NHL games and 11 AHL games. Due to injuries Walker retired from hockey in 2012.

During the middle of the 2011-12 season, the Flyers acquired defenseman Nick Grossmann from the Dallas Stars on February 16, 2012. He remained with the Flyers until June 27, 2015 when he was traded to the Arizona Coyotes.

Number 8 went unworn until the start of the 2017-18 season when defenseman Robert Hagg claimed the number 8 during his rookie season that he wears to this day.

 

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: phillymag.com

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