When Bobby Clarke retired in 1984, the Flyers decided to honored their all-time greatest player with the Bobby Clarke Trophy. It goes to the "team's most valuable player" as determined by a panel vote consisting of local sportscasters and sportswriters.
Eric Lindros won the trophy four times, while Ron Hextall and Mark Recchi won it three times each. There have been quite a few amazing individual story lines with the Flyers this season. A few different Flyers could lay claim to the trophy.
Here are five who could win it.
The veteran is once again the team's best defenseman. His strong presence has softened the blow of losing team captain Chris Pronger. A stalwart on defense, Timonen is also a major contributor offensively. His 38 assists are third among defensemen in the NHL.
It would've been laughable to consider Mr. Universe for the team's MVP award at the All-Star break. But his steady play in February and his historic month of March have made believers out of the doubters and made the Flyers a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
The quirky, eccentric, just plain strange goaltender was a divisive figure in Philadelphia around the time of The Winter Classic. But after smashing the Flyers' record for longest shutout streak and posting an impressive 10-2-1 record in March, the high-priced free-agent goalie is showing that he is capable of being the Flyers' best player.
His six shutouts this season are the most by a Flyers goalie since Roman Cechmanek recorded the same number in 2002-03.
A lot of people questioned Paul Holmgren's wisdom in signing the 39-year-old forward as a free agent. He'd spent the last three seasons playing in the second-rate KHL. Throw in the fact that while in the NHL, Jaromir Jagr was the star on three of the teams most despised by Flyers' fans (the Penguins, the Capitals and the Rangers), and he was mainly despised in Philadelphia.
However, Jagr has proven Holmgren very wise indeed.
Once a baby-faced, long-haired winger who was loathed in these parts, Jagr is now a grizzled-looking veteran who still has amazing skating, stick-handling and playmaking abilities who is a fan favorite in Philadelphia. Even at the age of 40, he's almost impossible to knock off the puck.
Jagr's leadership and experience have certainly rubbed off on linemates Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. Night in and night out, he is proving to be one of the most important players to take the ice for the Flyers.
By mid-October, all anyone wondered about Scott Hartnell was when he'd waive his no-trade clause so the team could trade the disgruntled forward out of town. What a difference a few months and being put on a line with a future Hall of Famer and an emerging superstar makes.
Since being teamed with Jaromir Jagr and Claude Giroux on the team's first line, Hartnell has turned into the definition of "dominant power forward." He throws checks, crashes the net, punishes opposing defensemen, and he's been scoring goals. Many goals.
His 36 goals is a career-best and leads the Flyers. He is clutch—scoring with .09 seconds left in an overtime game against the team's biggest rival is all you need to know in this regard. He sacrifices his body for his teammates and is not afraid to drop the gloves when necessary.
He is a pest in the Keith Acton mode and has evolved into a powerful scoring forward in the Rick Tocchet mode.
He may very well be the team's MVP.
When the dual faces of the franchise (Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, remember them?) were traded over the summer, people feared for the offense and believed the team lost its identity. Claude Giroux quickly put both fears to rest.
Giroux stepped up big-time this year and made this Flyers team his, especially after captain Chris Pronger was lost for the season. His 86 points so far this season are more than Richards or Carter ever scored in a season for the Flyers and is more than those Bosom Buddies out in Hollywood have combined for this season.
Giroux does it all: centers the No. 1 scoring line, hits, back checks, plays on the power play, kills penalties. He's almost the perfect player.
He has a chance to become the first Flyer to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer and the first Flyer since Eric Lindros to record 100 points in a season.
Look for the 2011 Bobby Clarke Trophy winner to repeat in 2012.