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Philadelphia Flyers: Assembling the Franchise's Best All-Time Roster

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2012

Philadelphia Flyers: Assembling the Franchise's Best All-Time Roster

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    The Philadelphia Flyers were part of the original NHL expansion in 1967-68. When they joined the league, the Flyers were put in the Western Conference along with the other five expansion teams.

    The Flyers were the first of those teams to establish themselves as a legitimate NHL power. They became a talented team that also had the ability to intimidate opponents with its physical style.

    When the Flyers became known as the Broad Street Bullies, they became beloved by their fans and they were also hated outside Philadelphia.

    While they were derided for their dedication to pugilism on the ice, the Flyers also had a powerful team that beat the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins in 1974 to win the Stanley Cup. They won the Stanley Cup again the following year.

    It's been a long dry spell since then. However, the Flyers have had a slew of dominant players who have worn their legendary uniform.

    Here's our look at the team's all-time roster with four forward lines, four sets of defensemen and three goaltenders.

C Bobby Clarke, LW Bill Barber, RW Tim Kerr

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    Bobby Clarke is the greatest and most symbolic player in Philadelphia Flyers history. He played in an era dominated by Guy Lafleur, Bobby Orr and Gilbert Perreault. Clarke may not have been able to match them in talent, but he may have had more competitive instinct than any player in league history.

    Clarke was a warrior on the ice who played on the edge. He scored 358 goals and 1,210 points during his career with the Flyers and he scored the overtime goal in Game 2 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals in Boston that helped them win their first Stanley Cup.

    Barber was Clarke's teammate on those Stanley Cup championship teams. Barber had speed and power when heading to the net and he scored 420 goals in his career. He had a 50-goal season in 1975-76. Barber had a vicious slap shot in addition to his skill around the net.

    Tim Kerr was one of the strongest players to ever set himself in front of the net. When Kerr was at his best, he was nearly impossible to move and he excelled at tipping the puck and jumping on rebounds. Kerr scored 54 goals or more in four straight seasons between 1983-84 and 1986-87.

C Rick MacLeish, LW Brian Propp, RW Mark Recchi

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    Rick MacLeish will always be one of the most important heroes in Philadelphia sports history. MacLeish scored the only goal in the 1974 Stanley Cup clinching game over the Boston Bruins. MacLeish deflected Andre "Moose" Dupont's shot from the point past Gilles Gilbert in the first period. The Spectrum erupted with joy and goalie Bernie Parent made that goal hold up to give the Flyers the Cup.

    MacLeish was a highly skilled player who skated brilliantly. He scored 50 goals and had a career-high 100 points in 1972-73 and he scored 30 goals or more seven times with the Flyers.

    Brian Propp was another excellent skater and playmaker who began his career with the Flyers in the 1979-80 season. He scored 40 goals or more in four of his first seven seasons.

    Mark Recchi is known for winning three Stanley Cups with three different teams—none of which were the Flyers. However, when he goes into the Hall of Fame, his accomplishments as a Flyer will be at the forefront. Recchi's best season came in 1992-93 when he scored 53 goals and added 70 assists.

C Eric Lindros, LW John LeClair, RW Reggie Leach

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    Center Eric Lindros saw his career begin in controversy and end due to injury. However, when he pulled on a Flyers uniform, he was regularly an unstoppable force when healthy. Lindros played with the Flyers during the first eight years of his career and participated in six All-Star games. He scored 40 goals or more four times in that span.

    John LeClair was a skilled and powerful left wing who could put the puck in the net. He scored 50 goals or more in three consecutive seasons starting in 1995-96.

    Reggie Leach will forever be known as "The Rifle." He had one of the hardest and most accurate shots when he was on his game. He scored a remarkable 61 goals in 1975-76. During the playoffs that season, he scored five goals in the clinching game 5 of the Flyers' semifinal series against the Boston Bruins.

C Rod Brind'Amour, LW Simon Gagne, RW Gary Dornhoefer

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    Rod Brind'Amour played 633 games for the Flyers and he scored 601 points. He was known for going into the corners, taking the abuse but still finding away to make key plays.

    Talented Simon Gagne scored 259 goals and 524 points for the Flyers and none of them were bigger than the third-period power play goal he scored against the Boston Bruins in Game Seven of the 2010 playoff series. The Flyers came back from an 0-3 deficit to become the third team in NHL history to record such an achievement. Gagne's goal proved to be the series winner.

    Gary Dornhoefer was one of the anchors on the Flyers' Stanley Cup winning teams. He was a heavy-footed plow horse who parked himself in front of the net and was nearly impossible to move. He scored 202 goals and 518 points for the Flyers.

D Mark Howe and D Jimmy Watson

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    Mark Howe was the most impactful defenseman in Flyers' history. He played 594 games in a Flyers' uniform and he scored 480 points. He was  plus-349 during his career in Philadelphia.

    Howe had the gift of timing and athleticism. He sensed the moment to move into the play and he had the quickness to take advantage of those opportunities.

    Jimmy Watson was a better athlete than his brother Joe Watson, another stellar Philadelphia defenseman. Jimmy Watson was tough, responsible and he scored 186 points in 613 games.

D Eric Desjardins and D Ed Van Impe

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    Eric Desjardins is the No. 2 offensive defenseman in Flyers history behind Mark Howe. He scored 396 points in 738 games and was known for his hard, accurate shot from the point and his skill as a defensive player.

    Ed Van Impe was an old-school Flyer who made an impression on opposing forwards who skated into the offensive zone. Van Impe would use his devastating hip check and body check to break up plays and keep the puck out of the Philadelphia net.

D Chris Pronger and D Barry Ashbee

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    Barry Ashbee's career appeared to be on the fast track, but it was cut short when he was hit in the face by a slapshot in the 1974 playoffs. He was a dominating defensive defenseman for four seasons before the injury.

    Chris Pronger played for the Flyers for three seasons, but he was a dynamic leader for Philadelphia before he was sidelined by concussion-related issues. Pronger led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010.

D Tom Bladon and D Behn Wilson

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    Tom Bladon was not one of the better fighters in Flyers history, but he was not afraid to do battle. He engaged Boston Bruins tough guy John Wensink in the above video. However, despite his shortcomings as a fighter, he scored 230 points in a Flyers uniform and was plus-186.

    Behn Wilson was a good offensive defenseman during his career with the Flyers. He scored 214 points between 1978-79 and 1982-83.

G Bernie Parent, G Ron Hextall, G Doug Favell

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    Goaltending has been a Flyers weakness in recent years, but when they won the Stanley Cup in 1974 and '75, nobody played a greater role than Bernie Parent. He was one of the best regular-season goaltenders of that era and it would be difficult to find a goalie who ever played better than Parent in the playoffs those two seasons.

    Parent shut down the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres with amazing performances in '74 and '75. His 1-0 shutout in Game 6 of the '74 Finals is considered one of the best clutch goaltending performances of all-time because he shut down one of the most powerful offensive teams of his era.

    Ron Hextall is the Flyers' all-time leader in victories. He used his quick reflexes and skills to backstop the team and his best season was 1995-96, when he had a 31-13-7 record with a 2.17 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. Hextall was the first NHL goaltender to score a goal.

    Doug Favell is often overlooked in Flyers history, but he had a 2.78 career goals against average and 16 shutouts in a high-scoring era.

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