By Mike Watson, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
As the Philadelphia Flyers close their 50th season in the NHL, it is obviously disappointing without a coveted playoff spot.
However, we take a look back and celebrate the entire body of work over five decades and have a little fun with some of the faces and names who have made up 50 seasons of everything that is Flyers hockey.
The Flyers roster has had almost 600 players from A to Z – Keith Acton to Danius Zubrus — and even two Q's Dan Quinn and Hall of Fame coach Pat Quinn.
It has been colorful roster – Ryan, Peter and Todd White, Dick Cherry, Don Blackburn, Larry and Dave Brown — and has even included the names of seven past U.S Presidents – Jeff Carter, Dunc and Behn Wilson, Greg Adams, Bobby and Mark Taylor, Jim Johnson, Fred Arthur and Forbes Kennedy.
It was also been one with the environment; the Fog, Fred Shero, would lift and provide water, Frank Bathe, Jay Wells, Brad Marsh, and when below freezing, it will fall from the clouds, Garth Snow, and turn to ice, Bob Froese.
That water helped grow the trees, Bill Root, Mark LaForest, feed the animals and also the landscape – Mark Lamb, Phil Crowe, Ross Lonsberry, Richard Park, Derrick Plante, Pierre Plante, Jay Rosehill.
We’ve had brothers, Jim and Joe Watson, Rich and Ron Sutter, Luke and Brayden Schenn, and almost a father and son to skate as Flyers, Darryl Sittler and Ryan Sittler – drafted. It was also blessed with the genes of Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe with his Hall of Fame defenseman son Mark Howe.
It’s had some famous anatomy references, including the toothless smile of legend Bobby Clarke with the Stanley Cup, the blocked shot with his face by Ian Laperriere, and the inadvertent stick to the eye that ended the career of Hall of Fame goalie Bernie Parent.
Of course, every organization has heart, but we have been blessed with two, both with legendary voices, in Gene Hart and his daughter, recording artist Lauren Hart. Home games for decades have had the fatherly voice of P.A. announcer Lou Nolan — "Hey, Flyers Fans – Hey Lou!" — and a couple of other body part names you could add – Bill Armstrong and Michal Handzus.
The team has had its highs and lows, as it has been "Flyered Up," "#HartnellDown" or sometimes, simply Larry Goodenough.
It’s also had some size differences – Don Biggs, Neil Little — along the way. It’s apparently been a friend to the casinos in Atlantic City – Bruce Gamble, Blair Betts, and Michael Raffl — but it has also had its legal side – Paul Lawless, Kirby Law, Marc Bureau. There’s also been some transportation involved “Boxcar” Ed Hospodar and the “E- Train" and “Wayne Train" – Eric Lindros and Wayne Simmonds, respectively.
The slew of nicknames over the years is simply legendary. We’ve had a Chico (Resch) and Rico (Eric Desjardins), Hexy and Rexy (Ron Hextall and Mark Recchi). In the 80’s, “Flockey Hockey” with Ron Flockhart ran wild for a season and thanks to forward Jim Montgomery, he coined the Lindros, John LeClair, Mikael Renberg line as "Legion of Doom."
From the Stanley Cup teams of the 70's and into the 80's, we’ve had a Hound (Bob Kelly) a Big Bird (Don Saleski), a Moose (Andre Dupont), a Hawk (Rick MacLeish) and a Rat (Ken Linseman). This group may not have wanted to go hunting with the Rifle (Reggie Leach), a Chief (Craig Berube) or the Hammer (Dave Schultz) in the off season – for obvious reasons.
The famous Flyer offensive lines and their nicknames:
The team has had its share of personal tragedy, Pelle Lindbergh, Barry Ashbee, Dmitry Tertyshny and Yanick Dupre. Although they were taken from us far too soon, the Flyers faithful were blessed to have had them wear the Orange and Black.
Overall, this last half century has produced two Stanley Cups, in eight appearances. It has had its first home, the Spectrum, suffer roof damage (1968) and had windows blown out (1993) from storms. Now in the Wells Fargo Center since 1996, the Flyers future looks bright with the names of Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Ivan Provorov and "Ghost" Shayne Gostisbehere.
All of this, the last 50 years of wonderful Flyers hockey, we owe to the unwavering passion of the late, Ed Snider.
Thank You, Ed.
The names, the stories, and the events of the next 50 years hope to be as colorful and riveting as the last 50…with a few more Stanley Cups, of course.