It was goodbye for the second time for one Flyers fan favorite and hello for the second time for another Flyers fan favorite – in the same trade.
On March 8, 2000, the Flyers moved Mikael Renberg to the Phoenix Coyotes and brought back rugged winger Rick Tocchet for a second stint.
With the Flyers brass looking for a player at playoff time to "get dirty" and show some of the younger players how to get it done, Tocchet certainly filled a need. He had over 100 playoff games under his belt and a Stanley Cup to his name, which automatically garnered respect. At 35 with some gas left in the tank, he now had another chance to win a Cup, this time for the team he spent his first seven seasons playing for.
On the other side of the coin, Renberg had fallen on hard times that season and struggled to find his way. In 62 games, he only netted 8 goals and 21 assists. Once a budding star on the "Legion of Doom" line with Eric Lindros and John LeClair, he would now find himself searching to regain that form in the Arizona desert.
The move proved to be a pivotal one, and Tocchet held up his end of the bargain. In the remaining 16 regular season games, Tocchet played about 15 minutes per night. He played to a plus-4 rating while notching six points. He became acclimated to his teammates and his role and he was a key contributor in the Flyers playoff run.
Tocchet would grab three assists in a 5-3 home win that closed out the series against the Buffalo Sabres in the first round. In the Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils, Tocchet would record two goals and assist on another in Game 2, a huge win to tie the series as it headed up the NJ Turnpike for Games 3 and 4. He would beat Martin Brodeur again in Game 3, a Flyers 4-2 win in East Rutherford and score the lone goal in Game 7 back on home ice.
Although the Flyers allowed a three games to one lead to slip away in that series, Rick Tocchet wasn’t the reason. He played his defined role well and was clutch for the Flyers in key moments time and again.
Unfortunately, they fell one goal short in Game 7 to the Devils.
Mike Watson is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on twitter @Mwats_99.