This slideshow is the compilation of the best Flyers in the history of the organization.
The three top lines will be offensively capable and the fourth line will be gritty with a scoring touch. The defensive pairings will be defensive minded first with a few who can jump up into the offensive plays. And the goalies will be the best players at that position.
Now don’t forget, this is all opinion and your opinions are welcome too. I had some help from my pop for the old school players, so if anyone had a better player or thinks we have them out of order, let me know!
My top line played together for six years and were tagged the LCB line by the fans and the media (Leach, Clarke, Barber). Two of the three players on this line are NHL Hall of Famers (Clarke and Barber) and they won two Stanley Cups amongst them (Leach came in ‘74-’75 and didn’t win the ’73-’74 Cup).
Clarke would be my captain because he embodies what it is to be a Flyer. As fans we want our hockey players to be tough and still have that scoring touch and Clarke was all that and more. In his 15 seasons as a Flyers center, Clarke accumulated 1210 points, 852 assists, and a plus/minus of +506 in 1144 games, all of which are Flyer’s records. He also was not afraid to fight or get his hands dirty defensively. He was a three time NHL MVP and was named the best defensive forward in the game (Selke Award) in 1983.
Another powerhouse on my top line is Bill Barber. Barber played for the Flyers for 12 years and holds the Flyers record for most goals with 420. He also scored 112 points in the ‘75-‘76 season and had a total of 108 points in 129 playoff games. Barber was also unselfish in his own zone and was as physical as they came.
The final piece of my first line was the final piece in the actual Flyers famous LCB line, Reggie Leach. Leach came to Philadelphia in ’74-’75 and added a potent scoring touch to a team that already had some big guns. In his first year, the Flyers won their second straight Stanley Cup. Leach’s second season in Philadelphia was his most productive, with Leach leading the league in regular season goals with 61, 19 playoff goals (NHL Record), and a Conn Smythe for his effort in the ’76 NHL Playoffs (Leach is the only non goalie to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for the losing team).
My second line is a pure scoring line. With these players competing against any teams number two defenders, they would become the best line in hockey. Eric Lindros would center this dangerous line with his ability to move the puck and protect it through the neutral zone, Brian Propp would squeeze down the left side boards and wait for a pass or a rebound, and Tim Kerr would find his way to the front of the net and firmly plant himself there.
Brian Propp played in Philadelphia from 1980 to 1990. In his ten years, he was a five time all star and had four 90+ point seasons. He also shined in the playoffs with 112 points.
The center for the line was the most controversial Flyer to ever lace up his skates in Philadelphia, Eric Lindros. I selected him on statistics alone and injuries ignored. Lindros played eight seasons with the Flyers and was selected to seven all star games. He was a point machine when he played and racked up three seasons of 90+ points, four 40+ goal season, and six 40+ assist seasons. In ’95-‘96, Lindros won the Hart Trophy for best player in the league and scored 115 points that season.
To finish off my second line, I chose Tim Kerr to play on the right side. Kerr would be the scoring touch for this line because he was a beast in front of the net and had scoring hands that were as good as gold. He had four consecutive 50 goal seasons and holds the NHL record for most power play goals in a season with 34. Kerr was a three time all star and had 145 career power play goals.
This line was built for grinding out points. All three were playmakers but had the touch to put the puck behind the goalie. This line would press the issue in the offensive zone and play physical man defense in the neutral and defensive zones. All of these players were unselfish and embodied the term power forward.
My center has to be Hall of Famer Rick MacLeish; in 741 games, he had 697 points and plus/minus of +181. In MacLeish’s second season he scored 50 goals and had 50 assists and became an intricate part of the championships in the mid ‘70’s.
I would surround MacLeish with two of the prototypical Flyers grinding style, power forwards. Mark Recchi had two seasons of over 100 points including one that had 123 points (53 goals, 70 assists) and John Leclair had three seasons of 50+ goals and 5 season with 40+ goals. Both didn’t mind driving the net and made a lot of plays from the garbage that goalies left. They were rebound hounds and would work together to compliment Rick MacLeish.
My last line is all about grit with the ability to score on opponents mistakes. These players would be very important to the penalty kill as well. Each was known for their defensive abilities but their offensive abilities would make them dangerous with shorthanded goals and forechecking. Brind’ Amour was a warrior whose defensive capabilities outshined his offensive talent. Brind’ Amour also had a nasty streak that would bode well for a fourth line center.
I would put “The Hound” Bob Kelly to Brind’ Amour’s left to make sure no one tried anything and I’d put Rick Tocchet on his right. Kelly would be the shutdown forward we would assign on the opponents best player and Tocchet could agitate and get the other team to make a mistake that he could capitalize on. Tocchet’s offensive finesse would shine through when he isn’t running people into the boards.
Schultz would have to be the honorable mention.
For me, the first pairing was an easy one. Statistically there are no two better candidates for the top defensive pairing then Mark Howe and Eric Desjardins. Both were stellar in their own zones but had the ability to jump up into the offensive zone and drive one home.
In my opinion, Mark Howe was the best Flyers defender to ever wear the orange and black. Howe was a three time Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman) finalist and led one of the most potent defenses of the 1980’s. Howe was a four time all star and had 480 career points with the Flyers, which is a team record for defensemen. He also holds Flyers’ single season records for defensemen with 82 points and a plus/minus of +85.
Howe’s replacement was Eric Desjardins and it seems do justice for them to play alongside each other. Desjardins was the same type of player as Howe because he didn’t mind playing against the other team’s top players. Desjardins won 7 Barry Ashbee Awards (spoiler alert!) in his 11 years as a Flyer and is second in defensemen scoring with 396 points.
The second defensive pairing I decided on was to protect the players of my second line and provide them with a huge shot from the point. Andre Dupont is my choice as the stay at home defenseman who has a solid outlet pass to move the play along. Dupont was more interested in keeping the puck away from his net then playing a huge role in the offense. His shutdown defense and ability to stop anyone was revered; he was a huge part of the Stanley Cup teams that won in ’73-’74 and ’74-’75.
This pick may not fall well on people when we talk all time Flyers. I would put Chris Pronger alongside Dupont to protect themselves from the defensive lapses our offense will give up. Pronger is the definition of a shutdown defenseman and has the ability to jump into a play and hit a 100 MPH slap shot into the net. Pronger has 606 points in his career including 55 points last year. He is also the only defenseman other than Bobby Orr to win NHL MVP.
This defensive pairing will be a total shut down pair. Offensive production will be very limited but that is not what to expect from these two players. Barry Ashbee and Joe Watson were the same type of player; they were committed to defense and they could stop any advancing forwards.
They were a big part of the Championship teams of the mid ‘70’s and both Watson and Ashbee would play a huge part on the penalty kill. Ashbee became a force in Philadelphia and was loved by the fans. He died of leukemia in 1977 and the most valuable defensemen award each year was renamed the Barry Ashbee Award.
This was the easiest pick of them all. By far the best goaltender in Philadelphia Flyers’ history, Parent led the way for the Flyers to make three consecutive Finals appearances and win two Stanley Cup Championships.
In the two consecutive Championship campaigns of ’73-’74 and ’74-’75, Parent was a consecutive all star, a consecutive Vezina Trophy winner (Best Goaltender of the regular season), and a consecutive Conn Smythe winner.
As the famous bumper stickers and t-shirts from the ‘70’s read, “Only the Lord saves more than Bernie.”
My backup goalie was not so easy to pick though. After long periods of indecision, Hextall’s resume was the second most impressive. He has 240 career wins for the Flyers and 45 playoff wins, both of which are team records.
To go along with his impressive stats, were his ever so memorable goal scoring abilities. In 1987 Hextall scored a goal on an empty net to become the first NHL goalie to score a goal by shooting it into the net.
He went on to score a goal in the playoffs as well and is regarded as one of the best stick handling goalies of all time.