Here we are in December with little to do in this tough lockout time. What’s a blog to do? Well, it looks like a 12 Days of Christmas-themed series of posts is the way to go. But, we realize that all of you hockey fans aren’t into Christmas, so we’ve named it after the man nicknamed Orange Jesus and called it Claudemas.
On the tenth day of Claudemas, Flyers Faithful gave to me…ten Flyers that Steve J. wishes he had seen win the Stanley Cup with the Flyers.
Rico! Eric Desjardins was as reliable a defenseman as the Flyers have ever had, wearing the crest Orange and Black for over a decade. He wasn’t the most outspoken player, and far from flashy, but he was rock solid back there. His acquisition during the 1995 lockout-shortened season gave the blue line stability not seen since another player mentioned lower down on this list.
Fans were upset when the Flyers traded Simon Gagne for Matt Walker. Sure, we all knew it was an obvious salary dump, but Gagne was a fan favorite who had been with the team for a decade. The fact that we would never get to see him win a Cup with the Flyers was devastating. Gags wasn’t the most dynamic offensive talent on the ice, but he was a solid, reliable player who was well-liked by fans and the organization alike. Seeing him lift the Cup with the L.A. Kings was a bittersweet moment, to say the least.
“Rod the Bod” won the Cup in Carolina quite a few years after leaving Philadelphia, and really, that couldn’t be more fitting for Flyers fans. It always seems like players succeed right away after leaving the Flyers. Brind’Amour was a fan favorite for his gritty play. His broken husk of a nose was proof enough that Brindy brought his “A game” every day, so much so that fans often clamored for him to be named captain over Eric Lindros.
As a Flyers fan, it’s basically a prerequisite that the fiery Hextall make these sort of lists. He’s immediately recognized as a Philadelphia fan favorite due to his violent temper and aggressive play. Hexy’s best shot at a Cup was his first year in the league, when he won the Conn Smythe in a losing effort to the Edmonton Oilers in the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals. If only the Flyers had been able to win one for the man who played Paul Bunyan at the back of Kent Nilsson’s legs and who dared to dive at Chris Chelios blocker-first.
If only Kerr had been healthy. That’s what Flyers fans say to this day regarding the 1985 and 1987 Stanley Cup Finals. He averaged 1.27 points per game in the latter season, scoring 95 points in 75 games. He had totaled 13 points in 12 games before going down with a shoulder injury late in the second round against the New York Islanders. The Flyers took the Oilers to the brink without Kerr; one can only imagine what they would have done with him. He was a brilliant offensive talent for the Flyers when healthy, scoring 650 points in 601 games, and endured his share of tragedy to be remembered as a true Flyer.
Howe entered rare company back in March when he became just the fifth member of the franchise to see his number raised to the rafters when had his #2 retired to coincide with his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. All of this was for good reason: Howe is simply the best defenseman in Flyers history. He put up 82 points in the ‘85-’86 season and topped the league with a plus-85 rating. AS A DEFENSEMAN. And, oh yeah, the best defenseman in Flyers history just so happened to be a converted forward. He absolutely deserved to hold Lord Stanley’s Cup alongside blueline buddy Brad McCrimmon, but sadly was never able to do so.
Primeau isn’t necessarily one of the best Flyers of all time. He’s definitely not the best Flyer on this list. But he might have the biggest heart of anyone on here. He went from an underwhelming center for Detroit and Hartford/Carolina to a defensive force under Ken Hitchcock. He almost single-handedly dragged the veteran-laden Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. That effort earned him his place here, and in the memories of all Flyers fans.
Also, this goal is just all kinds of awesome.
Propp was the absolute heart and soul of those ‘80s Flyers teams, and a player who grew from just a scorer to a playoff leader thanks to some prodding from Mike Keenan. He made three appearances in the Finals with the team and just couldn’t seem to be on one that brought it home. He wasn’t too shabby as a player either, with 26-plus goals and 66-plus points in all of his 10 full seasons with the Flyers. It’s tragic that we couldn’t see him let out a “Guffaw!” with the Stanley Cup in his hands.
Johnny Vermont made me think that 40-50 goal seasons were common. He spoiled me and everyone in Philadelphia during his time here in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. LeClair was a statue in front of the next and had a cannon of a slapshot to boot which was the scourge of defensemen and timid goaltenders alike. He scored 368 goals between the regular season and playoffs during his time in Philadelphia, including three straight seasons with 50-or-more red lights. He had amazing chemistry with Eric Lindros after being acquired from Montreal in February of 1995, the two being the key components for the Legion of Doom.
As soon as you saw “by Estebomb” at the top, you knew this was coming. Lindros was my favorite player growing up. At his peak, he was easily one of the top players in the world. Not winning the Stanley Cup in his lone trip in 1997 tends to be the biggest tarnish on Big E’s record (at least, the biggest smudge not involving his parents). A Cup win validates the massive trade that the Flyers made for him and cements his status as an all-time great player. For the record, #88 put up 716 points between the regular season and playoffs for the Flyers, including 26 points in the ‘96-’97 playoff run. If only that hadn’t ended against the Red Wings like it did…
Honorable Mention: Rick Tocchet, Mark Recchi, Mike Richards, Sami Kapanen, Jeremy Roenick, Dave Poulin, Brian Boucher
Who’s in your top 10?