The 1967 NHL expansion brought six new teams to the National Hockey League, The California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, and The Battle of Pennsylvania was born.
Being cross-state teams, The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins were natural rivals for one another and fraternizing with the enemy isn’t something either franchise seemed interesting in doing. They’ve only done business 11 times in their 55-year history most of which were minor deals forgotten to history.
Interestingly enough, the Flyers and Penguins were rarely on the same page organizationally. The Penguins struggled through most of their early years before Mario Lemieux showed up, right around the same time the Flyers missed the playoffs for five straight years. When Eric Lindros joined the Flyers, it briefly made the teams competitive, but a division re-alignment in 1993 set them apart once again. It wasn’t until Sidney Crosby joined the Penguins and the Flyers were rebuilt after the abysmal 2006-07 season that the rivalry heated up, culminating in the famous 2012 playoff series, which the Flyers won in six games.
(to the Flyers – to the Penguins)
2/27/68 – Art Stratton for Wayne Hicks
The first trade between the Pennsylvania teams consisted of two longtime depth forwards. Art Stratton had a decade of hockey under his belt by the time he arrived in Philly, but only 65 games in the NHL. He would play another 12 games with the Flyers before leaving the NHL in favor of the World Hockey Association.
Wayne Hicks had nine professional seasons and 82 NHL games to his name and played 15 games for the Penguins, ultimately his last NHL games of his career before going back to the AHL.
6/11/70 – George Swarbrick for Terry Ball
Swarbrick is best known for his time with the California Golden Seals in the mid-60’s before being traded to the Penguins in 1969. He was used sparingly by the Pens during the 1969-70 season and was traded to the Flyers organization, where he was predominantly an AHL forward but did play two games for the big club.
Terry Ball never played for the Penguins organization, leaving in free agency the same summer.
3/9/76 – Gary Inness & futures (1977 8, 9, 10, 11 rounders (Pete Peeters, Tom Bauer, Rob Nicholson, Jim Trainor)) for Bobby Taylor & Ed Van Impe
In the first major deal struck between the two teams, The Flyers dealt their second captain Ed Van Impe, who held the title from 1968 to 1972 to the Penguins along with goalie Bobby Taylor, who had spent a bulk of his career in the AHL.
Van Impe only played 22 games with the Penguins over the following season before retiring. Taylor played two games with the Penguins and 23 with the AHL affiliate before also retiring in 1976.
The Flyers acquired goalie Gary Inness, who played eight NHL games over the following two seasons, and four draft picks in the 1977 amateur draft.
Pete Peeters played three seasons with the Flyers from 1979 to 1982. He opened the 1979-80 season with a 22-0-5 record in route to the Flyers’ 35 games without a loss. Peeters also helped carry the Flyers all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 1980 before ultimately losing to the Islanders. He returned to the Flyers organization in 1989 for two more seasons before retiring.
Tom Bauer, a left wing, never played a hockey game after his college career at Providence came to an end in 1979.
Rob Nicholson, a defenseman, never played a hockey game past 1979 when his two-year run with the Green Bay Bobcats of the USHL ended.
Jim Trainor, a defenseman, did play in three games for the Maine Mariners, the Flyers’ AHL affiliate in 1979, but was out of hockey by 1981.
6/14/78 – 1978 first round pick (Behn Wilson) 1978 eighth round pick (Jerry Price) for Tom Bladon, Ross Lonsberry, Orest Kindrachuk
The last NHL Amateur Draft was held in 1978, and it was a busy one for the Flyers. The club’s pick was 14th overall (which they used to select forward Danny Lucas), but they also acquired two other first rounders in that draft, the seventh overall pick from the Rangers, and the sixth overall pick from the Penguins.
The Flyers drafted defenseman Behn Wilson sixth overall. He set rookie records for the Flyers defenseman in points (49) and penalty minutes (197). Wilson played five seasons in Philadelphia racking up 214 points in 339 games. He still sits sixth in points by a defenseman in Flyers history and fifth in goals with 59.
To pull this trade off, the Flyers gave up three key members of their Stanley Cup runs three years prior. It marked the end of an era as the Flyers changed up their game plan heading into the 1980’s to battle the Islanders, Rangers and Oilers in the playoffs.
The Flyers gave up defeseman Tom Bladon, who sits fourth in points by a defenseman in Flyers history with 230. Bladon would play two season with the Penguins, though never finding the same production that he did in Philly.
Ross Lonsberry was a longtime Flyer from 1972 to 1978, known as a key member of the “Broad Street Bullies.” He played three seasons in Pittsburgh, where he continued to find offensive success. The Penguins did not renew his contract in the 1981 offseason and he retired during the summer.
Orest Kindrachuk spent three seasons in Pittsburgh, where he held the title of captain for all three years. Injuries limited him to just 144 games over the following three seasons, though he still managed 118 points in that time. He’d play one more season with the Capitals in 1981-82 before hanging up the skates.
10/23/83 – Rich Sutter, 1984 second round pick (Greg Smyth), 1984 third round pick (David McLay) for Andy Brickley, Mark Taylor, Ron Flockhart, 1984 first round pick (Roger Belanger), 1984 third round pick (Mike Stevens)(traded to VAN)
Five years after their previous trade, the Flyers and Penguins came together once again, this time in their biggest deal to date. Rich Sutter, who only played nine game for the Penguins after his junior career, joined his twin brother Ron in Philly for the three seasons. He was traded to Vancouver in 1986 in the deal that brought J.J. Daigneault to Philly.
Greg Smyth was a right-handed defenseman who played 49 games for the Flyers from 1986 to 1988, playing a fair amount of time in the AHL in between. David McLay played 44 AHL games before leaving the organization and retiring soon after.
Andy Brickley was the last pick, 210th overall, of the 1980 NHL draft. He played three games for the Flyers and the rest of the season in the AHL before the trade. He played in two seasons with the Penguins, often going between the AHL and NHL. He signed with the Devils as a free agent in 1986.
Mark Taylor was the Flyers’ sixth round pick in 1978 and played 64 games with the Flyers from 1981 to 1983. He played two season with the Penguins before being traded to the Capitals in 1985.
Ron Flockhart was a high scoring forward for the Flyers, playing two seasons if Philadelphia. He’d spend just over a year with the Penguins before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Penguins used that first round pick on Roger Belanger. He only played 44 games during the 1984-85 season with the Penguins. He spent another two seasons with their AHL club before retiring. The Penguins traded that 1984 third round pick to the Canucks in exchange for defenseman Kevin McCarthy.
9/1/88 – 1990 third round pick (Chris Therien) for Wendell Young, 1990 seventh round pick (Mika Valila)
The Flyers acquired Wendell Young in August of 1987 from the Vancouver Canucks and he spent a majority of the 87-88 season in the AHL. The Penguins, who were in desperate need of a goalie, acquired Young for a third round pick. Young ultimately ended up splitting the starts with young up-and-coming star Tom Barrasso during their early 90’s hay day.
The Flyers used that third round pick to select defenseman Chris Therien, who would end up being the longest tenured defenseman in franchise history with 753 games, good enough for fifth all-time in the Flyers’ history books. A solid trade that helped both teams.
2/19/92 – Mark Recchi, Brian Benning, 1992 first round pick (Jason Bowen) for Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuelsson, Ken Wregget, 1992 third round pick (David Roche)
Undoubtedly the biggest and most important trade made between the two clubs, in February of 1992 the Penguins traded 24-year-old superstar Mark Recchi along with Brian Benning and a 1992 first round pick to the Flyers in exchange for established stars Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuelsson and goalie Ken Wregget along with a 1992 third round pick.
Recchi would find success in Philadelphia as part of the “Crazy Eights” line with Eric Lindros and Brent Fedyk. He still holds the Flyers’ single-season point record with 123, set in 1992-93. He was traded three seasons later in a blcokbuster deal where the Flyers acquired John LeClair and Eric Desjardins from the Canadiens.
Benning spent less than a full season in Philly, later being traded in January of 1993 to the Oilers for Josef Beranek and Greg Hawgood. The Flyers drafted Jason Bowen with the 1992 first and he bounced back and forth from the NHL and AHL from 1992 to 1998, playing in 10 NHL games.
The additions of Tocchet and Samuelsson propelled the Penguins to their second straight Stanley Cup in 1992. Tocchet had a career year in 1992-93 posting 48 goals and 109 points, both personal highs. Samuelsson played three seasons in Pittsburgh before returning to the Flyers as a free agent in the summer of 1995.
Wregget formed a lethal tandem in net with Tom Barrasso for much of the next decade in Pittsburgh. The Penguins selected David Roche in 1992. He played two seasons in Pittsburgh before moving on to the Calgary Flames organization.
2/10/99 – Sean O’Brien for futures
A Phantom during the 97-98 season, Sean O’Brien left for the Syracuse Crunch during the 1998-99 season, the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the time. He only spent 45 games in Syracuse before he was acquired back by the Flyers via this trade. There is no known follow up to the “futures” condition of the trade.
1/4/01 – John Slaney for Kevin Stevens
Kevin Stevens is best known for riding shotgun with Mario Lemieux during the Pens’ Cup runs during the early 90’s, but bounced around the league quite a bit when his first tenure with the Penguins ended in 1995 thanks to personal issues off the ice. He signed in Philadelphia as a free agent in the summer of 2000 and played 23 games for the Flyers recording nine points before he was dealt back to the Penguins for Slaney.
John Slaney was a former ninth overall pick in 1990, but never stuck in the NHL. He was, however, one of the top defenseman in AHL history with many records to his name that he’d achieve during his time with the Phantoms.
3/17/02 – Billy Tibbetts for Kent Manderville
Billy Tibbetts is not a good dude. He spent years in jail both before and after his brief NHL career and was often demoted during his hockey career because of behavioral issues. When Tibbetts made the NHL with the Penguins he was praised for turning his life around and because of his physical style of play, drew the attention of the Philadelphia Flyers. He played all of nine games with the Flyers before being suspended for instigating a fight. 23 days after the trade he was put on waivers and subsequently released.
Kent Manderville was a defensively responsible depth forward that didn’t see much ice time during his days in Philly. He was a cheap and easy trade chip for a risk like Tibbetts. He played 86 games with the Penguins before heading to the Swedish Hockey League for the 2003-04 season.
6/25/10 – 2011 third round pick (Harrison Ruopp) (traded to PHX) for rights to Dan Hamhuis
Eight years after their last trade, The Flyers and Pens once again made a deal. Following the 2009-10 season, Dan Hamhuis made it known he was not going to re-sign with the Predators, so his rights were traded to the Flyers in exchange for a conditional pick and Ryan Parent. When it became clear that the Flyers were not in the running to sign Hamhuis, they traded his rights to the Penguins in exchange for a third round pick. The Penguins were ultimately unsuccessful in signing Hamhuis as well. The Flyers later traded that third round pick to the Coyotes as part of the package that landed them Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights. Ruopp never made it to the NHL.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)