The Greatest Philadelphia Flyers in Each Decade over the Last 50 Years

Dan Fremuth@@hometownphanContributor IIIJanuary 1, 2014

The Greatest Philadelphia Flyers in Each Decade over the Last 50 Years

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    Since the team's inception in 1967, the Philadelphia Flyers have had a host of phenomenal talents don the orange and black.

    Some have been offensive dynamos, while others excelled in the defensive aspects of the game. Some have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, while others have delivered championships to the City of Brotherly Love.

    Here's a look at the greatest Flyers in each decade over the last 50 years.

1970s: Bobby Clarke

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    There are few players more closely associated with the Philadelphia Flyers than Bobby Clarke.

    The face of the franchise, Clarke captained the Orange and Black from 1973 to 1979 and helped deliver back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.

    From the start of the 1970-71 season to the conclusion of the 1979-80 campaign, the Flin Flon, Manitoba native compiled 267 goals, 624 assists and 891 points in just 773 games. During that stretch, Clarke produced the two best seasons of his professional career (119 points in 1975-76 and 116 points in 1974-75) and managed better than 25 goals and 80 points in seven of 10 campaigns.

    He perfectly embodied the Broad Street Bullies, accumulating 906 minutes in penalties during those 10 seasons while providing leadership and an annual offensive impact.

    An eight-time All-Star, Clarke won the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP three times in the 1970s (1973, 1975 and 1976) and saw his No. 16 jersey retired by the Flyers on Bobby Clarke Night in 1984.

    He was a first ballot inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame just three years later.

1980s: Mark Howe

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    The most productive defenseman in Flyers history, no one has patrolled Philadelphia's blue line better than Mark Howe did in the 1980s.

    After three seasons with the Hartford Whalers, Howe joined the Orange and Black in 1982 and registered 131 goals, 314 assists and 445 points on the back end in just 533 games between then and the conclusion of the 1979-80 campaign. The Detroit native managed better than 15 goals and north of 30 assists in each of his first six seasons in Philadelphia.

    To this day, Howe still holds the Flyers record for goals scored by a defenseman in both a career (138) and in a single season (24, 1985-86) along with the franchise mark for points by a defender in a career (480) and in a single season (82, 1985-86).

    A four-time All-Star in the 1980s and one of the game's pioneering two-way defensemen, Howe was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.

1990s: Eric Lindros

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    Less than 18 months after being tabbed by the Quebec Nordiques with the first overall selection in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, Eric Lindros was a regular in the Philadelphia lineup. The Flyers surrendered a boatload to secure Lindros but got a franchise player in return.

    From the start of the 1992-93 season to the conclusion of the 1999-2000 campaign, The Big E produced 290 goals, 369 assists and 659 points in an injury-riddled 486 games. During that time, Lindros produced 30 or more goals six times and managed 70 or more points seven times. What's more, he played with a physical edge using his massive 6'4", 240-pound frame to produce 946 penalty minutes in a Flyers sweater.

    A five-time All-Star during the 1990s, Lindros captured the Bobby Clarke Trophy as Flyers MVP four times and the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP in 1995.

    Lindros was one of the most galvanizing athletes in Philadelphia during his playing career but was welcomed back with open arms by the City of Brotherly Love during the 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game.

2000s: Simon Gagne

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    Like Lindros, Simon Gagne was a regular in Philadelphia's lineup less than two years after he was plucked with the 22nd overall selection in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.

    A fleet-footed pure sniper, Gagne amassed 239 goals, 237 assists and 476 points in 584 games with the Flyers from the start of the 2000-01 season to the conclusion of the 2009-10 campaign. The native of Sainte-Foy, Quebec paced the Flyers in scoring in back-to-back seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07 and recorded back-to-back 40-goal campaigns in the process.

    Gagne was twice named to the NHL All-Star Game in the 2000s (2001 and 2007) and earned the Bobby Clarke Trophy as team MVP in both 2006 and 2007.

    While fellow superstars like Jeremy Roenick, Peter Forsberg, Keith Primeau, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter came and went, Gagne was a constant in the Flyers lineup throughout the 2000s.

2010s: Claude Giroux

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    There's still more than half of the current decade remaining, but Claude Giroux has been Philadelphia's clear-cut star through its first four years.

    Through 39 games this season, Giroux is leading the Orange and Black with 26 assists and 37 points and is currently in the midst of a career-high nine-game point streak having registered six goals and 17 points during those nine contests.

    But watching Giroux lead the Flyers is nothing new.

    The Hearst, Ontario native has paced Philadelphia in overall scoring in each of the last three seasons and finished the 2011-12 campaign third among all NHLers with 93 points. He's a dynamic talent with the kind of exceptional hockey sense that allows him to play in all situations and at just 24 years old, was named the 19th captain in Flyers history in advance of last season.

    A two-time All-Star in 2011 and 2012, Giroux should hear his name called again in a week when Hockey Canada announces its final roster for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.