Ranking the top 20 greatest Flyers of all time: 10-6

NHL 2017: Penguins vs Flyers JAN 14
January 14, 2017: Philadelphia Flyers forward Brian Propp (26) in action during the 2017 alumni game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers at Well Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The game ends in a 3-3 tie. Christopher SzagolaCSM (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

No one knew what to expect when the Flyers entered the NHL in 1967. They were the first expansion team (Post the original six era), to win a Stanley Cup. The Flyers have proud orange clad fans that pack the house on a nightly basis, through the good times and the bad. These proud fans deserve the continued rankings of our beloved top 20 greats, that laced up their skates for this proud organization. Scorrrrrre top shelf, “Where Momma hides the cookies.” Without further delay, here are our rankings numbers 10-6.

 

10- Dave Poulin

Poulin was overlooked in the 1982 NHL Draft simply because of his size, so instead he went to play for the Rogle BK team in Sweden. Head Coach of the Rogle BK Ted Sator was also a scout for the Flyers. Sator was impressed with Poulin, and ironically enough he was added to the Flyers roster in the 1982-83 season. Poulin made his NHL debut at Maple Leafs Garden on the second to the last day of the season, where he potted two goals in a 6-3 Flyers victory.

The young Poulin was placed on a line with then superstar Brian Propp, and another undrafted player Tim Kerr the following season. This young Flyers line had instant chemistry, and they became a dangerous line in the league for the next three seasons. Poulin quickly established himself as a strong leader, and really had a strong two-way game. For his efforts, Poulin was named team captain in 1984-85, replacing a Hall of Famer in Bobby Clarke.

Poulin continued to be a force to be reckoned with in the NHL for the rest of his career. He was known for his offensive flare, but he also remained Defensively sound throughout his career, as well. If the Flyers were in need of a big goal, well Poulin would be the guy they leaned on for help. In 1985, while battling through injuries, Poulin was still an insane +45 for the season. Poulin scored a fantastic two-man disadvantage, short-handed goal to help close out the Quebec Nordiques in Game 6 of the Conference Finals. Moreover, Poulin helped a young orange and black club reach the 1985 Stanley Cup Finals. They eventually fell to a very talented Edmonton Oilers team in five games.

Two years later, Poulin missed sometime due to injuries, but managed to tally a pair of series clinchers against the New York Islanders in Game 7 of the Patrick Division Finals, and in Game 6 of the Wales Finals against the Montreal Canadiens at the Montreal Forum in 1987. With broken ribs, Poulin and the Flyers made the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals, but they lost to Edmonton again in seven games. For his career as a Flyer, Poulin potted 161 goals, and 233 assists for a total of 394 points in 467 games played. Poulin played in two All-Star games, won the Frank Selke Trophy in 1986-87 (Award Given to the Best Defensive Forward), won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1992-93 (Award given to a player who exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice), and was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame on February 23, 2004.

 

9- Tim Kerr

Kerr was scooped up, and signed as an undrafted free agent by the Flyers in 1980. He had hands of thunder that would beat any player’s face in, which included goaltenders. For Kerr, it took three seasons before he started to garner a reputation of being a sniper. He missed the majority of the 1982-83 season with knee issues and a broken leg, but Kerr still managed 19 points in 24 games played. Kerr remained primarily healthy in 1983-84, as he tallied 93 points in 79 games played. Moreover, Kerr began his team-record run of four consecutive 50 goal campaigns in the 1983-84 season. Kerr also set the NHL single season record for power play goals with 34, in the 1985-86 season (A record that stands today).

During the first round of the 1985 playoffs against the New York Rangers. Kerr set an NHL single game record by scoring four goals in a span of 8:16, in the second period of an eventual 6-5 victory. The following season in September 1985, Kerr was hospitalized with aseptic meningitis, but recovered to post a career best of 58 goals. The following season was no different, as Kerr once again brutalized NHL goaltenders for 58 goals, finishing second in the NHL to only the “Great one,” in Wayne Gretzky.

Kerr was left exposed in the 1991 expansion draft, and was scooped up by the San Jose Sharks. He was dealt to the New York Rangers soon after being selected by the Sharks. For his Flyers career, Kerr potted 363 goals, and 287 assists for a total of 650 points in 601 games played. Moreover, he was a one man wrecking crew in the playoffs, by tallying 70 points in 73 games played for his career as a Flyer.

For his efforts, Kerr was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in March of 1994, was a three-time All-Star, and won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1989 (Award for Best Sportsmanship).

 

8- Rick MacLeish

MacLeish was sent packing to the Flyers on January 31, 1971, after spending the first half of his first professional season with the Oklahoma City Blazers. The young 21 year-old in MacLeish was involved in a three-way deal which sent Bruce Gamble, Dan Schock, MacLeish, and a first round pick to the Flyers, Bernie Parent, and a second round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Mike Walton to the Boston Bruins. MacLeish spent the rest of the 1970–71 season with the Flyers, as MacLeish potted two goals and four assists in 26 games.

It wasn’t until the 1972-73 season that MacLeish finally found his groove in Philly, and in the NHL for that matter. He became the first member of the Flyers to ever score 50 goals in a single campaign, plus MacLeish chipped in 50 assists, bringing his points total to 100 for the season. This was enough to finish fourth in league scoring. Moreover, the Flyers won their first playoff series against the Minnesota North Stars, and they faced the Montreal Canadiens in the semi-final round. MacLeish and the Flyers stunned the Canadiens by winning the opening game in Montreal, but they eventually lost the series four games to one.

MacLeish’s regular season scoring totals dropped slightly in 1973-74, as he only tallied 32 goals and chipped in 45 assists. However, he led all scorers in the playoffs with 13 goals and 9 assists, as the Flyers won their first ever Stanley Cup. MacLeish was again fantastic in the 1974-75 season, by notching 38 goals and 41 assists. He went on to lead his team again in playoff scoring, as the orange and black won a second consecutive Stanley Cup. MacLeish only managed 22 goals and 23 assists in 1975-76, but he only played in 51 games due to injury. Moreover, he was unable to play in the playoffs, and the Flyers were swept in four games by the Montreal Canadiens.

It wasn’t until the 1976-77 season, when MacLeish finally lead the Flyers in scoring, as he tallied 49 goals and 48 assists for a total of 97 points in 79 games played. For his efforts, MacLeish finally made his first All-Star game. On July 3, 1981, the Flyers traded MacLeish to the Hartford Whalers. He was able to rejoin the Flyers as a free agent in 1983, but was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in the 1983-84 season. He retired at the end of that season, and MacLeish unfortunately passed away at the age of 66. Macleish had a triumphant Flyers career, and was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 1990.

 

7- Brian Propp

Propp was drafted 14th overall by the Flyers in the 1979 NHL Draft. He made his Flyers debut the following season, to which Propp managed to score the game-winning goal in his first career game against the New York Islanders, en route to a two point night. Propp was on a line with two elite players in Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach to start his rookie campaign, through his first 20 games. He was then placed on a line with Ken Linesman and Paul Holmgren, to which they had instant chemistry.

For his efforts, Propp managed to tally 75 points in his rookie season, thus surpassing Richard (Rick) Martin’s left-wing rookie scoring record, that was set with 74 points in 1971-72. Propp led the Flyers to the 1980 playoffs, where he led all rookie left wingers in goals (5), assists (10), and points (15). The Flyers eventually lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in Game 6 against the New York Islanders.

The young Flyer in Propp, flashed his beautiful hands in the 1986-87 season, as he finished runner-up to Wayne Gretzky in playoff scoring by potting 12 goals, and 16 assists for a total of 28 points in 26 games played. Moreover, Propp finished the playoffs with a +11 rating, and he potted 5 Power Play goals to boot. The Flyers eventually fell to the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Talk about camaraderie with a budding superstar in Propp. In game 1 of the 1989 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens. Propp sustained a concussion from a hard hit from Defenseman Chris Chelios. Chelios apparently hit him with his elbow, to which Propp fell to the ice. His teammates were furious over the non-call, to which they had some payback for Chelios. Finally, with 1:37 left in regulation in Game 6. Flyers netminder Ron Hextall slammed Chelios into the boards, and Hextall began to pummel him with blows, of course in retaliation for the hit on Propp from game 1. Eventually, Hextall was suspended for 12 games for taking matters in his own hands. Before the hit from Chelios, Propp was on a tear in the playoffs, as he potted 14 goals through his teams first 15 games.

Propp was a point machine until his 11th season in the NHL (1989-90), as this was the first time he failed to tally at least 65 points in a season. Unfortunately, later that season Propp was traded away by the Flyers. However, he will always be remembered as a Flyer legend that performed in any situation the coaching staff asked of him.

The superstar in Propp, is ranked 2nd all-time in Flyers history in Goals (369), assists (480), third in  points (849), 2nd in even strength goals (246), 7th in shorthanded goals (20), and 3rd in Power Play goals with (103). For his efforts, Propp was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 1999, but he should get some consideration into the NHL Hall of Fame, as well. He will always be a Flyers legend, and one that is beloved by the great fans of Philadelphia. Propp can be seen on many occasions greeting fans before the games on the concourse of the Wells Fargo Center or Xfinity Live.

 

6- Ron Hextall

Hextall arrived at Flyers Training Camp in 1984 with high expectations for him making the team out of camp. Even though, it didn’t happen Hextall was still motivated to continue his lifelong dream of playing in the NHL. Hextall finally got the call of a lifetime with then Head Coach Mike Keenan called him to play the opening game of the 1986-87 season, against the Edmonton Oilers. He conceded a goal from the first shot he faced in the game, but as the game went on so did the jitters. Hextall lead the Flyers to a 2–1 victory.

The young Goaltender in Hextall was not afraid to be aggressive in his rookie campaign. He swung his stick at opponents Brad Smith and Troy Murray during games. Moreover, Hextall was involved in a fight with opposing netminder of the New Jersey Devils Alain Chevrier. The Flyers wanted revenge after Steve Richmond punched Kjell Samuelsson in the head. Hextall was fined $300 for his part in the brawl.

In 66 games played during his rookie campaign, Hextall posted a GAA of 3.00, while recording 37 wins. For his strong efforts, Hextall was awarded the Vezina Trophy (Most Outstanding Goaltender). However, ironically enough he finished second in the voting for the Calder Trophy (Most Outstanding Rookie), which was awarded to Luc Robitaille. The Flyers faced the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals, to which Flyers captain Dave Poulin mentioned Hextall as the team’s leading performer. Unfortunately, the Flyers lost to the Oilers in seven games, but Hextall was still awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy (Most Valuable Player in the playoffs), as he became only the fourth player from a losing side to be awarded the trophy. 

The up and coming Goaltender in Hextall wanted to be like Bobby Clarke in the 1987-88 season, as he scored into an empty net against the Boston Bruins, becoming the first Goaltender in history to do such. For the season, Hextall recorded 30 wins, and a GAA of 3.50, which was slightly higher than his rookie year. However, Hextall struggled in the playoffs as he finished with a GAA of 4.75.

In just two short seasons, Hextall accumulated 104 penalty minutes in consecutive seasons (1986-87,- 1987-88). He became the first goaltender in NHL history to collect over 100 penalty minutes in a single season. The next few seasons saw Hextall having a series of suspensions and injuries, to include an MCL injury to his knee. However, to no one’s surprise when a teammate needed help who did they call…no not the Ghostbusters’, rather Hextall. He stuck up for a teammate in superstar Brian Propp during the 1988-89 playoffs, and Hextall was given a 12-game suspension to start the 1989-90 season for such. Hextall pummeled Chris Chelios, as Chelios used a flying elbow to hit Propp in the head, thus making him concussed in-game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens.

Hextall continued to be plagued by groin injuries in the coming seasons, and it really started taking its toll on his body. For instance, Hextall only appeared in 36 games for the 1990-91 season. He only recorded 13 wins, and had a GAA of 3.13. Hextall was traded to the Quebec Nordiques on June 30, 1992, as he was involved in the blockbuster trade that brought Eric Lindros to the orange and black. “Hexy” was reacquired by the Flyers on September 22, 1994, as the orange and black sent Goaltender Tommy Soderstrom to the New York Islanders. In his first season back with the orange and black. Hextall played in 31 games, and recorded his lowest GAA in a season with a 2.89. With Hextall aiding the young Flyers team, they reached the playoffs for the first time in six years.

The great Goaltender that Hextall was, eventually announced his retirement on September 6, 1999. He finished with a career GAA of 2.91, a .895 Save Percentage, 240 wins, and a whopping 476 penalty minutes. Moreover, Hextall has the most wins by a Goaltender in Flyers history (240), most career playoff wins (45), most career points by a Goaltender (28), and of course the most career penalty minutes (476). He was awarded one Vezina Trophy in 1987, and one Conn Smythe Trophy in 1987, as well. For his efforts, Hextall was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame on February 6, 2008. Of course, every Flyers fan knows he has recently built a prospect juggernaut, as General Manager of the Flyers, a title he has held since May 2014.

With an organization that is rich in history like the Flyers. It gets harder and harder to select the greatest players to ever lace their skates up for them. Next week’s piece will feature the top 5, or the greatest ever to lace their skates up for the classy orange and black. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.

 

Christopher Szagola/Cal Sport Media via AP Images

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