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Flyers Heritage: Captains

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In their 50-year history, the Flyers have had 18 captains. Among that list are five members of the Hockey Hall of Fame and six members of the Flyers Hall of Fame.

Of course, there is current Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who has worn the ‘C’ for five seasons now. There are also many players who briefly were the captain of the Flyers for a season here or there.

But ultimately, the Flyers franchise is defined by the longevity of the captains of the past and there are a handful that stand out. Here now is the list of all 18 captains in Flyers history and their impact on the team.

Lou Angotti (1967-68) - In their first season in the NHL, the Flyers turned to three-year veteran Lou Angotti, who played previously for the Chicago Blackhawks to be their leader. He led the team in points that season with 49 and helped the Flyers claim a division title and make the playoffs. Angotti was also part of the pregame ceremonies at the Alumni game last month.

Ed Van Impe (1968-69 to 1972-73) - Another one of the original Flyers, Van Impe took over as captain in the team’s second season and held the position for three seasons. Known as a stay-at-home defenseman with a gritty edge to his game, Van Impe established an intensity to the Flyers game.

Bobby Clarke (1972-73 to 1978-79 and 1982-83 to 1983-84) - He technically comes in as the third and sixth captain in franchise history, serving two stints with the ‘C’, but there is no more recognizable leader and captain than Hall-of-Famer Bobby Clarke. Not only was Clarke a legendary player, he was also the team’s leading scorer in franchise history with 1,210 points and the only captain in franchise history to accept the Stanley Cup.

Mel Bridgman (1979-80 to 1980-81) - The Flyers have only held the top pick in the NHL Draft once in their franchise history and used it to select Mel Bridgman in 1975. The tall, physical power forward fit the Flyers mold perfectly. He served as captain for just two seasons, but one of those seasons was 1979-80, a year where the Flyers made the Stanley Cup Final and put together a 35-game unbeaten streak.

Bill Barber (1981-82 to 1982-83) - Before going back to Clarke as captain, the Flyers used another member of the famed LCB line. Bill Barber was captain for two seasons as well. Though his time as captain was brief, Barber was always viewed as a leader on the Flyers, and remains the all-time leader in goals in the franchise’s history with 420.

Dave Poulin (1984-85 to 1989-90) - Scoring, smarts and skill helped shape Dave Poulin’s game, but the Flyers seventh captain was also a tremendous leader. Poulin served as captain for two Stanley Cup Final appearances in 1985 and 1987, earning the ‘C’ for a relatively young team. Poulin was only in his second NHL season when he was named captain. More than just his scoring touch, Poulin also had tremendous two-way ability and showed tremendous two-way ability.

Ron Sutter (1989-90 to 1990-91) - Sutter was never much of a scorer -- he had 137 goals in 555 games -- but he had tons of respect from his teammates for his tenacious style of play. Never one to back down from an opponent, Sutter’s defensive skills and leadership helped make him a captain of the Flyers for two seasons.

Rick Tocchet (1991-92) - One of the Flyers tough guys who had some scoring ability, Rick Tocchet took over as captain for one season. In Tocchet’s lone season as captain, the Flyers posted a 32-37-11 record.

Kevin Dineen (1993-94) - The Flyers were stuck in a five-year playoff drought, but with the veteran leadership of Kevin Dineen, made the playoffs to end their drought. Dineen also had 19 goals and 42 points.

Eric Lindros (1994-95 to 1999-2000) - Back to playoff status and on the rise, the Flyers turned the captaincy over to their rising star, Eric Lindros. For five seasons, Lindros held the role for the Flyers and was among their best performers, helping lead a deep playoff run in 1995 on his way to the Hart Trophy and a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1997.

Eric Desjardins (1999-2000 to 2001-02) - With tensions building between the Flyers and Lindros, the Flyers stripped the ‘C’ from Lindros and handed it to veteran defenseman Eric Desjardins, who had been a longtime associate captain. Desjardins was captain for another deep playoff run that came up short in 2000.

Keith Primeau (2001-02 to 2005-06) - The Flyers had another new captain two seasons later with Keith Primeau taking the reigns. He held the role for parts of four seasons and performed admirably in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, producing nine goals and 16 points to lead the team. Unfortunately, concussions forced the end of his career, ending his captaincy in 2005-06.

Derian Hatcher (2005-06) - A veteran to the NHL and USA Hockey, Derian Hatcher inherited the ‘C’ with Primeau’s career over and helped the Flyers to a 45-26-11 record. The captaincy for Hatcher was more of an interim role and by the next season, the Flyers had another captain in place.

Peter Forsberg (2006-07) - Originally drafted as a Flyer and later traded, Peter Forsberg finally took the ice for the Orange and Black in 2005-06. The following season, he was named the team captain, just another addition to what was already a Hall-of-Fame resume. Forsberg had 40 points in the 2006-07 season, but with the Flyers floundering to their worst season in franchise history, Forsberg was traded before the season was over.

Jason Smith (2007-08) - A season at the bottom of the NHL standings brought on many changes in the offseason. One was the addition of defenseman Jason Smith, who was named captain in his first year with the Flyers. The Flyers made a big return to the playoffs, advancing to the Conference Finals. Smith signed with Ottawa as a free agent that offseason, setting the Flyers up for a new captain for the fourth straight season.

Mike Richards (2008-09 to 2010-11) - The new captain of the Flyers was already waiting in the wings. Having made his NHL debut three seasons earlier, Mike Richards was named the 16th captain of the Flyers for the 2008-09 season and held the role for three seasons, helping lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010. Richards would have continued to hold the role if not for a blockbuster trade that sent him to Los Angeles in the offseason prior to the 2011-12 season.

Chris Pronger (2011-12) - The Flyers turned back to veteran leadership and a Hall-of-Fame resume in 2011 by naming Chris Pronger as the 17th captain in franchise history. Unfortunately, while the Flyers made a wise choice with a player who was vocal off the ice and a presence on the ice, an eye injury and post-concussion symptoms ended Pronger’s career.

Claude Giroux (2013 to present) - Following the 2012 season, the Flyers acknowledged that Pronger’s career was likely over and named Claude Giroux as the 18th captain in Flyers history. Giroux had emerged as one of the team’s leaders and top performers in his young career, and has since held the position for five seasons.


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