Philadelphia Flyers: 15 Biggest Fan Favorites in Franchise History
Over the years, the Flyers have seen their fair share of villains on the ice. Some played for opponents, and some played for the Flyers themselves. But for all the Tie Domis, Jaromir Jagrs and Eric Lindroses, the Flyers have also seen more than a few players who won over the hearts of the fans.
They didn't have to be the best scorers. They didn't have to be flashy or pretty or politically correct. But they worked their way into Philadelphia legend and remain some of the most recognizable names in the franchise's memory today.
These are the top 15 fan-favorite players in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers.
15. Ed Van Impe
You want to be a fan favorite in Philly? You'd better be tough, and you'd better not be afraid to cross the line.
Ed Van Impe barreled his way through Valeri Kharlamov at the Super Series in 1976, forever cementing his place in the hearts of Flyers fans. At the height of the Cold War, when the Soviets were known not only for their rival politics but also their international dominance on the ice, Van Impe's tone-setting hit caused the Red Army to cower in the locker room.
The Flyers would go on to win the game 4-1, and Van Impe will forever be known for his anti-communism hitting style.
14. Brian Propp
Best known for his strange goal celebration, the "Guffaw" Brian Propp made sure that Flyers fans were no strangers to the salute over the course of the 1980s.
Propp sits second on the Flyers' all-time list when it comes to goal scoring and holds the team record for shorthanded goals. His charismatic personality made him a fan favorite in an era of Flyers hockey between the Broad Street Bullies and the Legion of Doom.
13. Bill Barber
As a member of the Broad Street Bullies, Bill Barber was undoubtedly a tough guy. That fact was overlooked due to Barber's impressive scoring touch.
While he was never afraid to drop the gloves, Barber made more of an impact with his wrists than his fists, netting a franchise-leading 420 goals. Barber is also second only to the great Bobby Clarke in point production, with 883 tallies over 12 seasons.
Barber further wowed Flyers fans by coaching the team for two seasons, winning the Jack Adams Award in 2001.
12. Scott Hartnell
We aren't too far removed from the days of fans attempting to run Scott Hartnell out of town, and now he has virtually become the mascot of the franchise.
Hartnell has embraced the #hartnelldown Twitter trend, and during the All-Star Game last year, he turned it into an opportunity to donate to charity (via The Hockey Writers). On top of it, Hartnell has been at the center of some memorable moments for the Flyers, including his now famous Hulk Hogan impersonation in Pittsburgh.
11. Eric Desjardins
In his 11 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Eric Desjardins was the epitome of class, talent and reliability.
The defenseman became the face of Flyers hockey through a tumultuous run that saw the trading of Rod Brind'Amour, the dramatic exit of Eric Lindros and the breakup of the Flyers' core after the NHL lockout. Desjardins won seven Barry Ashbee Trophies as the team's top defenseman.
Desjardins was also bestowed with the honor of wearing the "C" after the departure of Eric Lindros, a role he earned by acting as a leader throughout Lindros' injuries and disputes with the front office and media.
10. Rick Tocchet
Women wanted him; men wanted to be him.
Rick Tocchet joined the Flyers in 1984 and instantly became a perfect hybrid of man's man and ladies man. Tocchet was never afraid to drop the gloves, but he somehow managed to avoid scarring up the mug that made him such a draw for the women of the greater Philadelphia area.
To this day, Tocchet remains one of the most popular Flyers, capable of racking up 96 points and 196 PIMs in the same season (1989-90). He is still a postgame analyst for Comcast Sportsnet.
9. Mark Recchi
As if the fans needed more reason to swoon over the recently-retired Mark Recchi, the former Flyer expressed his feelings on the lockout in an interview published in The Boston Globe, sentiments felt by fans everywhere: just get a deal done.
Recchi played two stints with the Flyers as a hard-nosed, undersized scoring machine. Few players have ever had quite the blend of class, talent and likability that Recchi showed as a Flyer, making him one of the most popular players in Philly during the '90s and 2000s.
8. Dave Schultz
The Broad Street Bullies were not just one man, but if the squad needed to pick a face, you would have found yourself spending plenty of time staring at the mug of Dave "The Hammer" Schultz.
It's no secret that dropping the gloves is the quickest way to a Flyers' fan's heart, and Dave Schultz made the most of it, amassing 1,386 PIMs in just four seasons in Orange and Black.
Schultz never shied away from a scrum, and his unending grit helped the Flyers bully their way to two straight Stanley Cups.
7. Paul Holmgren
Paul Holmgren has been a perennial Flyer, beginning his tenure with the team in 1976 as a player. He would remain a Flyer through 1984, and four years later, Holmgren succeeded Mike Keenan as head coach of the team.
The scarred tough guy now calls the front office home, serving as general manager since 2006 and making a name for himself as a dealer who will do anything to give his team a chance. Holmgren may not be popular around the league, but the fans in Philly admire his commitment to the team and his prowess as an executive.
6. Ron Hextall
Since Ron Hextall retired in 1999, virtually every goaltender to come through the Flyers' system has gotten the Hextall comparison, and none so far have succeeded in being on par with the erratic former netminder.
Hextall was the last reliable goalie to wear the Orange and Black, but his success in net was hardly the highlight of his career. Between intentionally shooting the puck into the opposing net—twice—and his end-of-the-season assault of Chris Chelios to avenge a dirty hit on Brian Propp, Hextall was destined to be the subject of conversation around Philadelphia water coolers for years to come.
5. Simon Gagne
Seeing Mike Richards and Jeff Carter hoist the Stanley Cup a year after trading them was hard for fans of the Philadelphia Flyers, but the pain was relieved by the sight of one of the franchise's most likable men finally getting hockey's ultimate prize.
Simon Gagne gave his best years to Philly, and the city loved him back. He scored two pivotal goals against Boston in the Flyers' awe-inspiring 4-3 series victory over the Bruins, who won the first three games of the series.
Had Gagne remained healthier for most of his time in Philly, there is little doubt that Gags would still be wearing the Flying P today.
4. John LeClair
The big-bodied American became the face of the Flyers in the 90s, as linemate Eric Lindros sullied his own name via a dramatic exit.
Though LeClair never won a Stanley Cup with the Flyers, he was a pivotal part of the team's most successful era since the Broad Street Bullies, a time that permanently put Philadelphia on the map as one of hockey's strongholds in America.
LeClair was a master of scoring garbage goals, shoving his way to the front of the net and pouncing on rebounds. Few Flyers have ever been as unquestionably loved as LeClair.
3. Bernie Parent
"Only the Lord saves more than Bernie Parent."
That was the bumper sticker that summed up the biggest reason for the Flyers' success in the 1970s, referencing the goaltender who remains the greatest player in Flyers history to make the crease his home.
Parent's career came to an untimely end after taking an errant stick to the eye, permanently affecting his vision. He got a proper send-off last year at the Winter Classic Alumni Game, playing a few minutes in the first period and leaving to a standing ovation at Citizens Bank Park.
2. Rod Brind'Amour
Rod Brind'Amour only played about half his career with the Flyers, but virtually no one is revered in the City of Brotherly Love quite like Brindy.
Brind'Amour set a Flyers' Iron Man record by playing 484 consecutive games, filling roles as goal scorer, penalty killer and checking line center. The day Brind'Amour was traded to Carolina remains one of the darkest days in the memories of Flyers' fans.
After his retirement, the Hurricanes organization allowed Philadelphia to pay tribute to the fan favorite by holding Brindy's jersey retirement ceremony on a night that the Flyers were in town.
1. Bobby Clarke
He is the greatest scorer in the history of the team. He was the captain of the Broad Street Bullies. He won the Flyers their only two Stanley Cups.
For all the Claude Girouxs, Eric Lindroses, Mark Howes and Ron Hextalls to come through Philly, hockey in the city is still defined by the name "Bobby Clarke."
The diminutive diabetic played a game twice his size and padded the stats of Rick MacLeish and Bill Barber. He remains the only Flyer to break 1,000 points, and his No. 16 has been long retired.
Bobby Clarke is truly the most beloved player in Philadelphia Flyers history.