As the entire NHL sits out while our world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, our Philadelphia Flyers are itching to return to action. Prior to the suspension of the season, the Flyers were riding a 9-1 record in their last ten games, and scoring at a league-high rate (4.33 goals per game since trade deadline). When (or if) the league resumes action, the orange and black will need to continue riding this momentum. It would be silly for the team to break up any chemistry that they currently have, but if they did, are there any former Flyers that would propel them to a Cup run?
For the sake of this article, a few obvious names pop out. Of course the Flyers would love to have Bobby Clarke lace up his skates again. The former captain and Flyers’ all-time great created a franchise high 433 goals during his tenure. In fact, he leads the franchise in most point categories. To tag along with him, Bernie Parent would be another obvious name. Sure, we have a future elite goaltender in Carter Hart now, but who wouldn’t want Parent? His franchise leading 294 goals saved above average 50 shutouts blow the next goalie on the list away. It would be too easy to instantly want these guys back, because frankly, I think every fan would.
What is one player that Philadelphia Flyers’ fans have been dying for years now?
A pure goal scorer.
It would be easy to look at Bill Barber, who scored a franchise high 420 goals between 1972-1984 with the club. However, if Lindros did not face the concussion history that he did, he would probably be ranked with Bobby Clarke and Claude Giroux in Flyers’ history.
During his eight seasons with the Flyers, Lindros scored a whopping 290 goals in 486 games in orange and black (0.60 goals per game, franchise high). Fans who watched him play know how dominant Lindros was when he was on the ice. He scored a hat trick when he was 19 years old, which was 18 games into his NHL career, showing how he could score at will. The Flyers would love a scorer like that on their roster now to match up with all-time play maker Claude Giroux.
Mark Howe may not have lived up to his father’s skill level, but was not too far behind. One of the greatest puck-moving defensemen of all-time for the Flyers was a runner-up three times for the Norris Trophy.
Howe played in a Flyers’ sweater from 1982-1992. In his ten seasons, he accumulated 480 points in 594 games (0.81 PPG). He was second in the league among defensemen in plus/minus during those years, with a +351 rating. His 138 goals during his years in Philadelphia were helped by his league-high 24 short handed goals. Could you imagine him with Kevin Hayes right now on the Flyers’ penalty kill?
The Flyers defense has been drastically stabilized by the additions of Justin Braun and Matt Niskanen this offseason. Already this season, Philly leads the league in goals among defensemen (44), and Howe would only increase this number. His two-way playing ability would be much appreciated for the youth on the Flyers’ blue line.
This third spot was a little tough to choose. However, Rick Tocchet epitomized what it meant to be a Flyer.
During his first 7.5 seasons in the league, Tocchet played with pure grit. He played similar to how Nic Aube-Kubel plays, with a heavy fore check. Tocchet was named the Flyers’ captain for the start of the 1991-1992 season, before finding himself in Pittsburgh the remainder of that year in a deal that gave the Flyers Mark Recchi. He found himself back in Philadelphia after a trade with Phoenix for Mikael Renberg, where he would soon end his career after missing the majority of the 2000-2001 training camp with a knee injury.
Tocchet was a physical forward who was never afraid to drop the gloves. His 1,815 penalty minutes lead the Flyers’ franchise. The unique thing, however, is that he also ranks 15th on the Flyers’ all-time points list (508), averaging 0.81 PPG. He even led the team in scoring in 1988, 1990, 1991, and has the most Gordie Howe hat tricks in franchise history (nine).
The NHL has changed in terms of playing style, however Tocchet would be an immediate fan-favorite with his physical play, yet ability to produce.
Mandatory Credit – © John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports