The Philadelphia Flyers and their fans have a unique relationship.
Any city can love their high-scoring superstar, and any city can loathe their underperforming goalie, but Flyers fans see greatness in a role-playing back-checker and disappointment in point machines who don’t get their hands dirty.
In fact, Flyers fans so closely connect their hockey identities with the toughness of the players on the ice, that it is easy to look at other teams and know exactly who would be loved and hated if they wore Flyers uniforms.
Some players, it seems, were almost born to be Flyers.
Here is one player from each team who would have made a great Philadelphia Flyer in another life.
The Cherry Hill, NJ native would be a local celebrity on Claude Giroux’s right wing. His point production would be overshadowed only by his Hometown Hero status.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: John LeClair
The Connection: Big-bodied, goal scoring Americans. Can't go wrong there.
Bergeron is a pure two-way forward who would excel in a city that values defensive specialists more than it loves superstar goal scorers.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Mike Richards
The Connection: Both known for their defensive reliability and offensive potency.
Enroth is a backup goalie with huge potential, who could burst onto the scene if given a starting role. Whether or not he pans out long-term is a little more dicey.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Brian Boucher (Original Edition)
The Connection: Wildly successful right off the bat, though the future can be hard to predict.
Iginla’s hypothetical association with the Flyers goes beyond this list and into trade rumors, but there is a good reason for the association. Iginla is a Philly-perfect blend of grittiness and pure on-ice talent.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Bill Barber
The Connection: Both are franchise-leading goal scorers and totally unafraid to drop the gloves.
Staal is one of the best defensive centermen in the league, making him one of the most valuable second-line players a team could ask for. In Carolina, Jordan will be playing behind his older brother, Eric.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Mark Howe
The Connection: Somewhat underappreciated players living in the shadow of a more highly-touted relative.
Stalberg doesn’t get the recognition team-mates like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa get, but this quality makes him endearing to a city that values character even over superstardom.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Scott Hartnell
The Connection: Perfect scoring complements for extremely talented centermen.
Let’s be honest, while the Flyers have a reputation for being tough, that doesn’t come without a reputation for being dirty. Downie already spent time in Philly and has shown that he can lose control.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Ed Van Impe
The Connection: Van Impe’s defining moment was a cheap shot against the Soviets. And the fans loved it.
Umberger spent time as a third-line centerman for the Flyers, who served primarily as a headstrong role player but possessed the ability to break out in the postseason.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: RJ Umberger
The Connection: Fairly self-explanatory.
Brenden Morrow has served as Dallas’ captain since 2006 and is one of the league’s more defensively responsible forwards. Leadership on and off the ice go a long way in Philly.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Dave Poulin
The Connection: Two-way forwards keeping the franchise relevant after the glory days.
Kronwall can just flat-out hit. What Flyers fan wouldn’t like to see him causing one wreck after another in the Wells Fargo Center?
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Denis Gauthier
The Connection: I just wanted an excuse to post my favorite hit of all-time.
Gagner is an underachieving winger who is capable of moments of brilliance. Just look at his eight-point game from last season.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Keith Jones
The Connection: Jonesy wasn’t the greatest to ever play the game, but he sure made you remember his name.
Weiss is a talented forward who is remarkably loyal to the Panthers’ franchise. No matter the circumstances surrounding his team, Weiss seems to be a testament to how the game should be played.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Sami Kapanen
The Connection: There isn’t a damn thing not to like about either of these guys. Class acts.
Simon Gagne will forever be a fan-favorite in Philadelphia. He has a blend of talent and loyalty with his share of iconic moments thrown in.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Mark Recchi (and Simon Gagne)
The Connection: Had Gagne never been derailed by injuries, he could have become the next Recchi.
The only thing more likeable than Clutterbuck’s rough-and-tumble playing style is his awesome name. And of course, his mustache.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Dave Schultz
The Connection: Mainly the mustache.
Cole was rumored to be a target for the Flyers, though the deal never panned out. Cole is a role player who has never been afraid to throw the body around.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Paul Holmgren
The Connection: Gritty, nasty American-born wingers.
How close we were to a reality. Weber is a quintessential Flyer in every way, from size and strength to toughness and total dominance at his position.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Eric Lindros
The Connection: Iconic faces of the franchise, as physical as they come.
From years of watching Zajac play against the Flyers, it’s hard not to want him in orange and black. He played four straight 82-game seasons before being derailed last year with a knee injury.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Rod Brind’Amour
The Connection: The Flyers’ own iron man played 484 straight games before his final season with the Flyers in 1999-2000.
Two words: goalie problems. DiPietro would make total sense in Philly.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Take Your Pick
Any Philadelphia goalie except Bernie Parent and Ron Hextall.
For all the trouble he has caused the Flyers, Callahan is exactly what Philadelphia hockey is all about. Callahan is humble, a true leader, and puts his role on the team above his own skill set.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Chris Pronger
The Connection: Both Callahan and Pronger were stabilizing leaders when their respective franchises made them captain.
Neil is a nasty, surprisingly skilled enforcer. He can be a fourth-line fighter or a top-six power forward in a pinch, and while few Philly fans actually like him, there’s no denying that he would easily find a role on the Flyers.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Donald Brashear
The Connection: Both can surprise goalies with some skill, but prefer fists to wrists.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Dan McGillis
The Connection: Both are big blue-line presences capable of putting up impressive offensive numbers.
Dupuis is a role-player with a knack for playing alongside a superstar. He can stand up for his linemates when he needs to, but also helps Sidney Crosby put points on the board.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Mikael Renberg
The Connection: While Eric Lindros and John LeClair never needed anyone to stand up for them, Renberg knew just how to round out the Legion of Doom.
For all his struggles in the postseason in San Jose, Marleau remains a Shark. He is undeniably loyal to the franchise and has a ton of ability on top of it all, even if he hasn’t been able to find his way to the Promised Land.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Brian Propp
The Connection: Both players are offensively talented, but ultimately have never lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Shattenkirk is young, but he is already emerging as a premier player in St. Louis’ defensive system. He would fit in well in Philadelphia, which has a rich history of grooming puck-moving defensemen.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Eric Desjardins
The Connection: Both are strong in their own zones, as well as on offense.
For all the value Philly places on being big and tough, the Flyers’ faithful sure love a little guy playing in a big man’s league. Marty St. Louis would be adored no matter where he played, but Philly would especially love to see him skating on a line with two tough guys to back him up.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Bobby Clarke
The Connection: Undersized superstars who turned out to be the icon of their respective franchises.
Reimer began his career brilliantly, posting a .921 save percentage over 37 games as a rookie, but an injury only five games into his sophomore season seems to have derailed him. Reimer lost his starting job after returning.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Antero Niittymaki
The Connection: A bright future that dims when injuries take their toll.
Kesler is hard-nosed, dirty and a damn good player. That’s pretty much the hat-trick when it comes to a guy you love to hate. He would fit right in with the city everybody loves to hate.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Rick Tocchet
The Connection: Kesler and young Rick Tocchet both had enough skill to just be a good player, but they insisted on getting their hands dirty on top of it.
Brouwer is a penalty-kill specialist with no fear of getting in after-the-whistle scrums. Few franchises appreciate penalty-killers the way the Flyers do.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Michal Handzus
The Connection: A couple of truly gritty, fan-favorite depth forwards.
Evander Kane has an extremely bright future as a talented goal scorer, but it doesn’t hurt that he can beat down Matt Cooke in his spare time.
Flyers Historical Equivalent: Jeremy Roenick
The Connection: Offensive talent meets tough-guy attitude. Kane and Roenick are a rare breed.