Almost 700 players have suited up for the Philadelphia Flyers in their history and for a long time players came and went with little issue. Some became stars and the others disappeared into the ether of history. But Flyers related social media, possibly the worst place on Earth, has amplified the hatred for bad players exponentially over the years, thus turning the tenures of otherwise forgettable players into legendarily bad players we’ll all tell our grandkids about one day.
Number 5: Robert Hagg
By the way folks talked about Robert Hagg you’d think he was the worst player to ever lace up a pair of skates. As the Flyers roster improved slowly over the years, the players that generally took most of the heat, Chris VandeVelde, Andrew MacDonald, Nick Schultz and company had all moved on, thus the role of whipping boy fell straight on the shoulders of Robert Hagg. Hagg was drafted in 2013 as a defenseman with a suitable offensive upside after posting 11 goals and 24 points in MODO of the Swedish Hockey League. Even though he’d ultimately never see that kind of output again, he changed up his game when he arrived in North America in 2014, instead becoming a physical stay-at-home defenseman. Hagg was an anti-analytics darling thus drawing criticism every time he touched the ice. Hagg was absolutely underwhelming and overstayed his welcome in Philly, but he wasn’t nearly as bad as he was painted to be.
Number 4: Luke Schenn
Luke Schenn was a fifth overall pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008. He was a physical presence on the ice, but was rushed to the NHL which ultimately hurt his development. He slowly but surely developed as his NHL career went on, and drew the attention of the Philadelphia Flyers as a rising star on the blue line and brought plenty of physicality to the table. On June 23, 2012 the Flyers traded their own work in progress James Van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn straight up. He joined his brother Brayden for three and a half seasons of lackluster hockey. He regularly led the team in hits, but never really developed as a player any further. Considering JVR went on to have the best seasons on his career in Toronto, the trade continued to age horribly.
Number 3: Ilya Bryzgalov
Ilya Bryzglov was a fairly successful goaltender early in his career in both Anaheim and later in Phoenix with the Coyotes. When his contract expired in 2011, the Flyers acquired the 30-year-old’s rights for Matt Clackson and a third round pick. After not having solid goaltending for the previous few years, Bryz was expected to be the game-changing goalie that brought the team to the promised land. The Flyers traded superstar forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to make room for Bryzgalov’s new nine-year, $51 million contract. Despite carrying a vast majority of the workload for the Flyers for two seasons, he wasn’t exactly good at his job. His on-ice play was shaky at best and his off-ice antics gained far too much attention for his own good. After just two years of his nine-year deal, the team bought out the remainder of his contract, thus ending a wild chapter in Flyers history.
Number 2: Andrew MacDonald
Six years, thirty million. The four little words that will live in Flyers infamy for the rest of time. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald was originally acquired at the 2014 trade deadline for #Crunchtime, their playoff rally cry at the time. After 19 regular season games and seven playoff games signed his six-year contract extension. In total, AMac played 310 games for the Flyers, most of which on the top pair, tasked with teaching rookie Ivan Provorov the ropes of the NHL. He redeemed himself slightly in 2018-19, his last season in Philly when he played semi-respectable hockey before being bought out of the last year of his deal in the summer of 2019.
Number 1: Michael Leighton
Michael Leighton’s professional career spanned almost 20 years, mainly as a journeyman AHL goaltender, but did dress for 110 NHL games and 16 playoff games, the latter of which all of which came with the Flyers. Despite the fact that his stellar play helped carry the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, he will always be remembered for allowing the Patrick Kane game-winning goal. He only played four more games in Philadelphia after than infamous goal, and only saw five more games of NHL action after his tenure in Philadelphia came to an end in 2013.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com