Ranking the Best Nicknames in Philadelphia Flyers History

Brad KurtzbergContributor IDecember 4, 2013

Ranking the Best Nicknames in Philadelphia Flyers History

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    Reggie Leach is one of many Flyers with a colorful nickname.
    Reggie Leach is one of many Flyers with a colorful nickname.Denis Brodeur/Getty Images

    There have been great nicknames throughout the history of the NHL, but the Philadelphia Flyers have had some of the best.

    Here is a look at the greatest nicknames in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers. You will notice that many of these nicknames are from Flyers of the past. Part of the reason is that nicknames were more prominent back then as sportswriters tried to create interest in a team and a player and help fans relate more to them.

    Nicknames are ranked on their originality more than anything else.

    Feel free to mention any great nicknames you feel I may have missed. Just make sure the player appeared in more than a handful of games for the Flyers. Players like "Chico" Resch, who made only a brief appearance in Philadelphia but is by far best remembered for playing for other teams, will not make this top-20 list.

20. Antero 'Frank' Niittymaki

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    Niittymaki is one of many goalies the Flyers have tried in recent years.
    Niittymaki is one of many goalies the Flyers have tried in recent years.Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Antero Niittymaki owned the Atlanta Thrashers. He was 17-0-0 lifetime against Atlanta, which remains tied for the most wins without a loss against an NHL team in league history.

    He also set a Flyers record with 54 saves in a single game.

    Injuries slowed Niittymaki down and eventually brought his goaltending career to an early end. He retired at the age of 32 due to a bad hip.

    Today, he works as a European scout for the Flyers organization.

19. Sergei Bobrovsky: 'Bob'

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    Sergei Bobrovsky was a pleasant surprise for the Flyers.
    Sergei Bobrovsky was a pleasant surprise for the Flyers.Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky spent two seasons in Philadelphia without establishing himself as the answer in goal for the Flyers. He was later traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie in 2012-13.

    Bobrovsky's nickname was just a shortened vision of his last name. It's simple, but it works.

     

18. Jeremy Roenick: 'J.R.'

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Jeremy Roenick's nickname is based on his initials, but his style of play and outgoing personality made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia.

    Roenick was named team MVP in his first season with the Flyers after leading the team in assists and points. 

    "J.R." played his 1,000th career NHL game and registered his 1,000 career point while playing in Philadelphia.

    Roenick now works as a broadcaster and has been inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

17. Larry Goodenough: 'Izzy'

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    Larry Goodenough helped the Flyers reach the Cup Final in 1976.
    Larry Goodenough helped the Flyers reach the Cup Final in 1976.Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Defenseman Larry "Izzy" Goodenough joined the Flyers late in the 1974-75 season and helped the Flyers win their second straight Stanley Cup that spring.

    The following season, he scored eight goals and 42 points, both career bests. In the playoffs, he set a rookie record with 14 points in 16 games as the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final again before being swept by the Montreal Canadiens.

    Goodenough was traded to the Vancouver Canucks midway through the 1976-77 season.

16. Eric Desjardins: 'Rico'

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    Eric Desjardins had a solid stint in Philadelphia.
    Eric Desjardins had a solid stint in Philadelphia.Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Eric "Rico" Desjardins was a standout defenseman in Philadelphia for more than a decade.

    He represented the Flyers twice at the NHL All-Star Game and won seven Barry Ashbee trophies as the Flyers' best defenseman.

    Desjardins scored a career-best 55 points in 1999-00 and later served as captain of the Flyers.

15. Scott Hartnell: 'Bird Dog'

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    Scott Hartnell had a 30-goal season in Philadelphia.
    Scott Hartnell had a 30-goal season in Philadelphia.Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    Scott Hartnell earned the nickname "Bird Dog" for his style of play on the ice.

    The bushy-haired forward enjoyed his best season with the Flyers in 2011-12 when he scored a career-high 37 goals and 67 points. He slumped last season after battling through injuries.

    Prior to joining the Flyers, Hartnell spent six seasons with the Nashville Predators.

14. Ron Hextall: 'Hexy'

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    Ron Hextall remains one of the most popular Flyers in franchise history.
    Ron Hextall remains one of the most popular Flyers in franchise history.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Ron Hextall's nickname ("Hexy") is based on his last name, but his aggressive and physical style of play made him a fan favorite during his time in Philadelphia.

    Hextall led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final as a rookie and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP despite the fact that he did not play for the team that won the Cup.

    He was also the first NHL goalie to shoot the puck into the opposing team's net during a regular-season game.

    Hextall had two stints with the Flyers and now serves as an assistant general manager with the club.

13. Barry Ashbee: 'Ash Can'

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    Barry Ashbee was the first Flyers player to have his number retired after his career was cut short by an eye injury during the 1974 playoffs.

    Ashbee spent four seasons with the Flyers as a player and then became an assistant coach with Philadelphia after he was unable to continue playing.

    Many fans forget how good a defenseman Ashbee was. He had a plus-52 plus/minus rating during the 1973-74 season in 69 games.

    His nickname ("Ash Can") was a play on his name and also was a result of his toughness.

    Ashbee died of leukemia in 1977 at the age of 37. The Flyers now award the Barry Ashbee Trophy each season to the club's best defenseman.

12. Rod Brind'Amour: 'Rod the Bod'

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    Rod Brind'Amour was a great leader for the Flyers and Hurricanes.
    Rod Brind'Amour was a great leader for the Flyers and Hurricanes.Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    Rod Brind'Amour was called "Rod the Bod" because he loved to lift weights and work out. The fact that it rhymed with his first name didn't hurt, either.

    Brind'Amour was one of the more popular players on the Flyers during his eight-plus seasons in Philadelphia. He represented the Flyers at the 1992 All-Star Game and helped the club reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1997.

    The former Michigan State star also set a Flyers record by playing in 484 consecutive games.

     

     

11. 'Cowboy' Bill Flett

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    "Cowboy" Bill Flett earned his nickname because he actually was a cowboy—he had a farm up in Alberta and actually competed in rodeos. He also had one of the NHL's best beards.

    When the Los Angeles Kings joined the league in 1967, owner Jack Kent Cooke wanted all the players to have nicknames, and Flett was dubbed "Cowboy."

    He kept that moniker when he joined the Flyers in 1971. His best season with Philadelphia came in 1972-73 when he scored a career-best 43 goals.

    Flett was a part of the Flyers' first Stanley Cup team in 1974 but was traded before the start of the 1974-75 season.

     

10. Ron Flockhart: 'Flockey Hockey'

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    Ron Flockhart spent two full seasons and two partial seasons with the Flyers in the early 1980s.

    He was primarily an offensive center and scored 33 goals and 72 points in 72 games in 1981-82.

    Flockhart earned the nickname "Flockey Hockey" for his style of play. He preferred to hold on to the puck and carry it up ice himself instead of quickly passing it to a teammate.

    Flockhart never matched his 33-goal rookie season but did have three more NHL seasons with more than 20 goals.

9. Andre 'Moose' Dupont

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    Almost nobody used "Moose" Dupont's actual first name.
    Almost nobody used "Moose" Dupont's actual first name.Denis Brodeur/Getty Images

    Andre Dupont was given the nickname "Moose" for his size and hard-hitting style of play.

    The burly defenseman spent eight seasons with the Flyers and was a key part of their two Stanley Cup-winning teams.

    "Moose" topped the 200-penalty minute mark in five of his eight seasons in Philadelphia and accumulated more than 100 penalty minutes every year he spent in orange and black.

    Dupont finished his career with the Quebec Nordiques and was named captain of the team in 1981-82.

8. John LeClair: 'Johnny Vermont'

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    John LeClair added size and talent to the Flyers lineup.
    John LeClair added size and talent to the Flyers lineup.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    John LeClair had three straight 50-goal seasons for the Flyers in the mid-90s as part of the "Legion of Doom" line. He was the first American-born player to record three straight 50-goal seasons in NHL history.

    His nickname was "Johnny Vermont" since he was a native of St. Albans, Vermont.

    LeClair played in five All-Star Games during his time with the Flyers.

7. Bob 'Hound Dog' Kelly

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    Bob Kelly earned his nickname for his non-stop pestering of opposing players.
    Bob Kelly earned his nickname for his non-stop pestering of opposing players.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Bob Kelly earned the nickname "Hound Dog" for his persistence on the ice and his willingness to hound opponents in search of the puck.

    Kelly played on both Flyers championship teams and even scored the Cup-winning goal in 1975.

    His best season statistically came in 1976-77 when Kelly scored 22 goals and 46 points.

    Kelly spent 10 seasons with the Flyers before finishing his career with the Washington Capitals.

6. Don Saleski 'Big Bird'

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    "Big Bird" was a part of both of the Flyers' Cup-winning teams.
    "Big Bird" was a part of both of the Flyers' Cup-winning teams.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Don Saleski earned the nickname "Big Bird" for his size and his resemblance to the famous "Sesame Street" character.

    He was a part of both Flyers championship teams and accumulated more than 100 penalty minutes in each of his first three NHL seasons.

    Later in his career, he scored more goals and his penalty minutes dropped. Saleski actually had three seasons with more than 20 goals, including a career-high 27 in 1977-78.

    Saleski finished his career with the NHL's Colorado Rockies in 1979-80.

5. Freddie 'The Fog' Shero

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    Freddie "The Fog" Shero was inducted into the HHOF this year.
    Freddie "The Fog" Shero was inducted into the HHOF this year.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Fred Shero earned his nickname "The Fog" because he kept his distance from his players, and it made him a bit of a mystery.

    Shero coached the Flyers to two straight championships in 1974 and 1975 and led them to the Stanley Cup Final again in 1976.

    Under Shero's leadership, the Flyers took intimidation to a new level, setting league records for penalty minutes in a season. They became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup.

    Shero was also one of the first North American coaches to study Russian hockey strategies and to import some of them to the NHL.

    He was finally inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.

4. Dave 'The Hammer' Schultz

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    Dave Schultz still holds the NHL's single season penalty minute record.
    Dave Schultz still holds the NHL's single season penalty minute record.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Dave Schultz set the hockey world on its ear when he joined the Flyers in 1972.

    Schultz spent four seasons with Philadelphia and never had less than 259 penalty minutes. In 1974-75, he set an NHL single-season penalty-minute record that still stands when he accumulated 472 penalty minutes in 76 games.

    Schultz was the most frequent fighter of all the "Broad Street Bullies." He helped the Flyers intimidate opponents and was an integral part of their two Stanley Cup-winning teams.

    Fans forget Schultz could also score. He scored 20 goals in 1973-74.

    Still, he earned his nickname "The Hammer" for his punching prowess.

3. Reggie Leach: 'The Riverton Rifle'

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    Reggie Leach won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1976.
    Reggie Leach won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1976.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Reggie Leach earned the nickname "The Riverton Rifle" for his hard shot and his hometown.

    Leach won the Stanley Cup with the Flyers in 1975 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1976 when he scored 19 goals and 24 points in 16 postseason games.

    Leach had a career-best 61 goals and 91 points in 1975-76. The goal total led the league.

    He remains one of the greatest pure goal scorers in Flyers history.

2. Ilya Bryzgalov: 'Mr. Universe'

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    Ilya Bryzgalov had a rocky tenure with the Flyers.
    Ilya Bryzgalov had a rocky tenure with the Flyers.Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    While many people gave Ilya Bryzgalov the nickname "Bryz," his better moniker is "Mr. Universe."

    The Russian netminder earned that nickname for his comments made during the HBO show 24/7, which previewed the 2012 Winter Classic. 

    While Bryzgalov was the star of the HBO show, he was inconsistent on the ice in Philadelphia. The Flyers bought out his contract after the 2012-13 season.

1. Ken Linseman: 'The Rat'

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    "The Rat" was a popular player in Philadelphia.
    "The Rat" was a popular player in Philadelphia.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Ken Linseman earned his nickname "The Rat" because he was one of the game's best agitators. Few opposing players liked lining up against Linseman, and for good reason. Some opponents went as far as to say he looked a bit like a rodent as well.

    Linseman spent four seasons with the Flyers and twice scored more than 20 goals. He had a second stint with the Flyers late in the 1989-90 season.

    The Flyers eventually traded Linseman to the Edmonton Oilers, and he won a Stanley Cup with Wayne Gretzky and company in 1983-84.