Ranking the 5 Most Colorful Players in Philadelphia Flyers History
The Philadelphia Flyers have had many colorful characters wear the Orange and Black since they entered the NHL in 1967. These are players who left their mark either on or off the ice for being a little different or having a big and unique personality.
In compiling a list like this, the length of time a player stayed with the Flyers has to be taken into account, as does the player's influence with the Flyers organization and the fans. Memorable moments, a different style or a player who changed the way the game is played or looked at all count for something here.
Keep in mind that a "colorful" player need not necessarily be an outstanding hockey player, although if two players are roughly tied on this list, the better player will be given the higher ranking.
One of the toughest aspects of putting together a list like this is to limit it down to the final five candidates. Feel free to comment on any Flyers player you feel belongs on this list or if you feel a player already included deserves to be higher or lower than he was ranked. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
5. Jeremy Roenick
Jeremy Roenick was anything but typical in a league where players are taught to never say anything controversial.
JR was never afraid to speak his mind, even when that meant fans, opposing players or even teammates might be angered by what he had to say. Add to that the fact that Roenick never met a microphone he didn't like, and you can see why life was never boring when the Boston native was on your team.
Roenick played well on the ice during his tenure in Philadelphia. In three seasons with the Flyers, Roenick led the team in scoring twice and won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the team MVP in 2001-02.
Roenick also endeared himself to Flyers fans when he came back from a horrific injury in 2003-04. He broke his jaw in 19 places when he was hit in the face by a slap shot. After missing a bit more than a month of action, JR returned in time for the playoffs and scored 13 points in 18 games to help the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference Final.
Roenick would be higher on this list if he had played more than three seasons with the Flyers. Love him or hate him, all fans acknowledge Roenick is colorful, controversial and never dull.
4. Scott Hartnell
Although he was traded recently, Scott Hartnell added color and personality to the Flyers organization for seven seasons.
The long hair and bushy playoff beard were classic trademarks of No. 19, which helped Hartnell stand out from the crowd. The long hair even led the Flyers to hold a unique promotion in 2009, "Hartnell Wig Night." All fans in attendance received a wig of long, brown, bushy hair that was inspired by Hartnell's unique hair style.
Hartnell's blue-collar work ethic made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia. During his tenure with the Flyers, he also became involved in the local community. When a fan on Twitter started keeping track of how often Hartnell fell down on the ice, Hartnell turned it into a charitable organization called the Hartnell Down Foundation. Each time he fell down on the ice, more money was raised for various charities.
Harntell's best season with the Flyers came in 2011-12, when he scored 37 goals. He also scored 17 points in 23 playoff games during Philadelphia's 2010 run to the Stanley Cup Final.
3. Ilya Bryzgalov
Ilya Bryzgalov may not have lived up to his outrageous contract, but the former Flyers goalie was certainly never dull.
Bryz became the star of HBO's 24/7 series when he attempted to explain the size and scope of the universe. While some of his statements may have been lost in the translation from Bryzgalov's native Russian to English, everybody on the team said the goalie had a unique way of looking at the world.
Bryzgalov also was seen telling backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky that he had "great news and even better news." The first piece of news was that Bryzgalov wouldn't be starting and the "even better" news was that this meant the team had "a chance to win the game."
On the ice, Bryzgalov didn't play poorly, although he was inconsistent and unable to live up to the nine-year, $51 million contract the Flyers signed him to in 2011.
The Flyers finally bought out the remainder of his contract during the summer of 2013.
Bryzgalov may not have lived up to expectations on the ice, but he was certainly colorful off of it.
2. Ron Hextall
Ron Hextall is now the general manager of the Flyers, but during his two tenures with the team as the starting goalie, he was one of the most colorful players in franchise history.
Hextall's aggressive style of play helped endear him to Flyers fans. While most goalies relied on their defensemen to clear away opposing forwards from their crease, Hextall took matters into his own hands. He was never afraid to swing his stick at opposing players, which effectively kept the opposition away from the blue paint.
No goalie has accumulated more career penalty minutes than Hextall's 584. He also had three consecutive seasons with 100 or more penalty minutes. Fans loved the fact that Hextall never backed down or apologized for his physical style of play.
During the 1987-88 season, Hextall also became the first NHL goalie to score a goal by shooting the puck into the opposing net. His ability to play the puck and pass it to his teammates almost made Hextall a third defenseman on the ice.
Hextall made this list because he was brash, bold and acrobatic on the ice and confident and outspoken off it. His talent and personality made him a fan favorite.
1. Dave Schultz
The Philadelphia Flyers fought, hacked and hit their way to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1973-74 and 1974-75. No player personified The Broad Street Bullies more than winger Dave Schultz.
Schultz became the most hated player in the NHL for his intense style of fighting, but that same style also made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia.
The Hammer spent four seasons in Philadelphia, and the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final in three of them. He finished with 259, 348, 472 and 307 penalty minutes from 1972-73 through 1975-76. Schultz led the league in penalty minutes three times while with the Flyers.
The 472 penalty minutes Schultz accumulated in 1974-75 are an NHL record that still stands. Schultz received a lot of misconduct penalties for his refusal to go directly to the penalty box after a fight was over. Schultz would psych himself up for fights before a game and often kept yelling or trying to get at opposing players after the linesmen separated them.
Schultz's fans were known as his "army" and often wore pointed military helmets similar to what the German army wore during World War I.
His popularity in Philadelphia grew so great that he even recorded "Penalty Box," a song that got plenty of airplay on local radio despite the fact that Schultz was a much better hockey player than he was a singer.
You could love or hate Dave Schultz, but anybody who saw this colorful Flyers forward couldn't ignore him.