Philadelphia is not an easy city to play in if you’re an athlete, but there’s a fairly easy way to succeed and earn the love of the fans- show up and bust your ass every game. The work ethic will always be respected by the Philly faithful even if you’re not a typical “top guy”. It’s not something every player understands, but it’s something former Flyer Shjon Podein understood damn well.
Originally drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the eighth round of the 1988 entry draft after his freshman year at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Podein returned to college for his sophomore and junior seasons, finally breaking out offensively during the latter.
He made the jump to the AHL during the 1990-91 and played two seasons with the Cape Breton Oilers, hitting the 30-goal plateau during his second season. He was used sparingly by the Edmonton Oilers from 1992 to 1994 and opted to not re-sign with the club entering the 1994 offseason.
Podein signed with the Philadelphia Flyers on July 27, 1994. He joined a star-studded team that featured Eric Lindros, Rod Brind’Amour, and a few months later, the Mark Recchi trade that brought Eric Desjardins to town and also formed the Legion of Doom.
A deep forward group kept Podein focused on a depth role, but it is a job he immediately meshed into. He quickly developed into a top two-way forward and penalty killer. During the 1995-96 season, Podein drew praise from then-St. Louis Blues superstar Brett Hull who called him “the most underrated defensive forward in the league.” During the same year, he was put on a line with fellow US-Born players Joel Otto and Trent Klatt, known as the “Minnesota Line” and the trio was a relied upon shutdown line.
With the heyday of the Legion of Doom and a solid defense corps mixed with high quality depth players, the Flyers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 1997. Podein had a then-career best 32 points during the regular season and seven points in 19 playoff games.
Early in the 1998-99 season he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Keith Jones. Two years later, he would win a Cup with the Avs, as well as taking him the King Clancy Award for his work in the community. As the story goes, Podein stayed in his uniform for a full 25 hours after winning the Cup.
The following year, during the 2001-02 season, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues where he’d play one final NHL season before heading to Sweden for two years and played his final year of hockey in Japan for the Nikko Ice Buckets of the fledgling Asia League Ice Hockey.
14 years after he was traded away from Philadelphia, he returned to the city for the 2012 Winter Classic Alumni Game. He scored the second goal of the game to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead in an eventual 3-1 win.
Since his retirement, Podein is still involved in his community. Active in youth hockey programs in his hometown of Rochester. Minnesota, and was a founder of Team25, a non-profit set out to help children facing extraordinary circumstances.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)