Flyers Alumni and President Brad Marsh put on a successful event Thursday night as they celebrated the 1986-87 Wales Conference champion Philadelphia Flyers. “Flyers Decades” was a live streamed Zoom chat on the Flyers Alunni YouTube Channel. Former Flyers as well as one NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier, told stories leading up to and including the Stanley Cup finals.
The event started off as Marsh, the alternate captain of the Flyers introduced the host, former Flyer and two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Bill Clement. Clement jokes with Marshy about not recognizing him without his helmet. A fun jab as Marsh was known as one of the last NHL Players to not don a bucket. Marshy, a fixture on the Flyers blue line during the decade, graciously gives way to Clement. Clement is a color analyst on multiple Flyers games throughout the season. He also had the distinct pleasure of being a color analyst for TV during these playoffs.
Joining Clement as co-host was NHL historian Liam Maguire. Maguire has a unique knowledge of hockey history, and was able to fill in gaps where the players may not have remembered. Maguire‘s knowledge of stats, teams, talent and series recaps are second to none.
Setting the Table
The night started out as Clement and Maguire were joined by Philadelphia Flyers greats. Former captain Dave Poulin, goaltender and former General manager Ron Hextall, and NHL Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe joined the panel. They first started talking about the history of the team dating back to the ’85 season in which they lost to the Oilers in the cup finals the heartbreaking loss of Pelle Lindbergh, and the first-round exit the following year.
Of the previous season, Poulin said that after losing Lindbergh in the tragic crash, they had nothing left emotionally in the ’86 playoffs. He also spoke of going into the ’86-’87 season with an unknown in net. Ron Hextall answered that question and received praise from the captain. “Just as Pelle taught us how to win, Hexy didn’t teach us to win. He expected us to win.”
Maguire talked about interesting statistics such as Ron Hextall’s record 40+ penalty minutes in the ’87 playoffs. “I was very misunderstood by the referees,” Hexy said. He also replied that the bulk of the PIM were ten-minute misconducts, a result of him sticking up for his teammates that were getting hacked. Mark Howe replied that Murray Craven had the distinct misfortune to sit for all of Hexy’s ten-minute misconduct penalties.
Adding an “Enemy”
Messier joined the call and Poulin joked about how he had to keep an eye out for him. He said he didn’t want to get run over again. Later on in the event, Poulin delivered what I thought was the line of the night. After Hexy spoke of the team’s toughness, stating every night Poulin had to get a huge needle in order to ease the pain of his injured ribs and Howe played with a bad back. Poulin joked about how Messier must have known he had bad ribs because “he crosschecked me on every face-off! That’s why they wouldn’t let me take draws…..I told him, Mess, I’m frozen and have a flak jacket on and can’t feel anything. He just laughed and cross-checked me again.” Messier replied by laughing, indicating it was true.
The Montreal Brawl
Stories continued as Clement set the story as to why the brawl took place. Resch and Ed “Boxcar” Hospodar, tried to stop Shane Corson and Claude Lemieux from shooting in the Flyers empty net, a Canadien pre-game superstition. Next was to understand why Hextall, who loved a good fight, missed out on the brawl in Montreal. According to Hextall, head coach Mike Keenan locked him in the dressing room. Keenan said he wouldn’t let Hexy out on the ice cause he would get sucker punched and the Flyers didn’t need to lose their star net-minder. Hexy added that it took an emotional toll as he feared by not being on the ice, he felt that a teammate would have to fight two Canadiens.
Due to time constraints, the talk of the Finals primarily stuck with game six. Messier spoke of trying to win game six and take the cup. He stated that the Oilers knew they would have to take the crowd out of the game. The Oilers jumped to a 2-0 lead then held a 2-1 lead into the third period. Messier said that they knew once Brian Propp scored to tie the game, the momentum got away from the Oilers.
J.J. Daigneault spoke of his game winning goal. Daigneault said he had no business being on the ice with Wayne Gretzky. As he skated to the bench, Keenan yelled at him, “GET THE *bleep* OUT THERE!” The rest is history as Daigneault stepped into a shot from the blue line for the game wining goal.
In the end, the Flyers ran into one of the greatest teams in NHL history and took them to the brink. They lost game seven 3-1 after jumping out to a 1-0 lead in Edmonton. Howe said of the Oilers, “the last two periods of that game is the greatest game I’ve seen a team play. It was a tidal wave that kept coming at us and if it wasn’t for Hexy the score would have been a little more lopsided. I got to give the Oilers credit.” Howe then stated, “that was the greatest hockey team I’ve seen play for at least two periods.”
Poulin summarized by stating, “I think we can agree, we lost to the best, gentlemen.”
The night was a success. Congrats to Marshy and the rest of the Flyers Alumni, as well as Flyers Warrior Ed McEvoy for a great night of hockey. If you missed it live, you can still watch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O72jaUWm-fY
Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports