Hockey is Canada’s game. Well, not entirely. While players born in the United States are less frequent, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been players that have broken the glass ceiling in the past. It just so happens some of the most important Flyers in history were born in the United States.
This week I’ll rank the Top 5 U.S. born Flyers in history!
Number 5- Mike Knuble
Knuble has to be one of the more under-the-radar Flyers of the mid-2000’s. He played 338 of his 1068 NHL games as a Flyer through 2005-09 and again in 2013. He joined the Flyers after the 2004-05 lockout and played on a line with Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne, referred to as the “Deuces Wild Line”, and would go one to have the best season of his career in Philadelphia. He represented the United States five times internationally, four as part of the World Championship roster and once as part of the 2006 Olympic team.
Number 4- Jeremy Roenick
By the time Roenick arrived in Philadelphia in 2001, he was already a veteran of 978 NHL games between Chicago and Arizona. Roenick spent three years in Philly, scoring 67 goals and 173 points and played a major role in the Flyers 2004 Eastern Conference Final run. Even after his departure from the Flyers, he went on and played another 169 games in San Jose and LA before retiring. He finished his career with 1,363 games played and 1,216 points and one of the greatest U.S. born players of all time.
Number 3- Paul Holmgren
While he may not be a fan-favorite after his less than memorable stint as General Manager, it’s hard to overstate how much Paul Holmgren meant to the Flyers organization and U.S. Hockey as a whole. Homer played 500 games as a Flyer, recording 138 goals and 309 points along with a whopping 1600 penalty minutes, which is 2nd all-time in Flyers history. He has held nearly every front office position with the Flyers, culminating in his promotion as team president in 2014. His contributions to U.S. hockey earned him the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2014.
Number 2- John Leclair
One third of the Legion of Doom line, John Leclair dominated the league during his decade in orange and black. LeClair is still fifth all-time in Flyers history in goals, seventh in points, and fifth in playoff points. He represented the U.S. five times, twice at World Juniors in 1988 and 1989, once at the 1996 World Cup, and two Olympics in 1998 and 2002. LeClair was inducted into the united States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
Number 1- Mark Howe
Mark Howe is without question the most best defenseman to play for the Flyers. Playing in a whopping 594 games over ten years, he recorded 480 points. In 2012 the five-time all-star became the fifth Flyer to have his jersey retired. Howe represented the U.S. only once internationally, a the 1972 Olympics winning the silver medal. Howe has been inducted into both the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011 and 2003 respectively, only the second father-son duo to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame (the other being Brett and Bobby Hull) as his Father Gordie Howe was inducted in 1972.
Shjon Podein- Podein played 301 games for the Flyers between 1994-99. While only recording 92 points in that stretch, he became a reliable penalty killer. He represented the U.S. on three occasions at the World Championships in 1993, 1994 and 1998. Podein help the Flyers reach the Cup Finals in 1997, before eventually winning the Cup with Colorado in 2001.
Brian Boucher- Originally drafted by the Flyers in 1995, He would serve three separate stints for the Flyers organization. He played for seven different NHL clubs during his NHL career and holds the record for the longest shutout streak in modern NHL history at 332:01.
Shayne Gostisbehere– Love him or hate him, Ghost burst onto the scene in 2015 and proceeded to break multiple rookie records including a 15-game point streak and four OT goals in a season.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: philadelphia.cbslocal.com