The Philadelphia Flyers are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Added in 1967 as part of the first expansion of the NHL, the Flyers were one of the few expansion teams that were able to operate successfully soon after their inception. After a few tough seasons, the turning point for the Flyers was the drafting of Bobby Clarke in 1969. The selection of Clarke and enforced Dave Schultz was the beginning of a trend started by owner Ed Snider, who wanted the Flyers to be a tough, physical team. The Flyers quickly fulfilled Snider’s vision, as the “Broadstreet Bullies” became one of the better NHL franchises in the early 1970s. Bobby Clarke was an incredible asset to these teams, combing physical toughness and tenacity with tremendous talent. Schultz would also set an NHL record for penalty minutes in 1975 with 472 PIM. The return of goaltender Bernie Parent proved to be a crucial part of the Flyers’ success. Philadelphia won their only two Stanley Cups in 1973-74 and 1974-75.
Since the Stanley Cup victories, the Flyers have remained as consistent playoff contenders in almost every NHL season. (They have missed the playoffs only 8 times, and 4 of those came between 1990 and 1994) While a few Flyers teams made runs at the Cup, none were successful. The Flyers lost to the New York Islanders in the Cup Finals of 1980, and Bobby Clarke retired shortly afterwards. Mike Keenan was brought into coach in 1984, and the combination of Keenan’s hockey genius and the brilliant goaltending of Pelle Lindbergh carried the Flyers to the Cup Finals again in 1984, where they were defeated by Wayne Gretzky and the upstart Edmonton Oilers. After Lindbergh’s death in a car accident in 1985, the Flyers got their next great player in the form of goalie Ron Hextall. Hextall was named playoff MVP in 1986, despite the fact that the Flyers lost the Cup Finals to the Oilers again. In 1989, the Flyers would make the playoffs for the 17th consecutive season, but were defeated in the Conference Finals.
The Flyers would miss the playoffs in the next four years, but the groundwork for a decade of Eastern Conference dominance was laid when Bobby Clarke returned to the organization and organized the acquisition of highly touted rookie Eric Lindros. (Hextall, Mike Ricci, Peter Forsberg, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, two draft picks and $15 million dollars were traded to the Quebec Nordiques for Lindros). In 1994-1995, Lindros centered newly acquired John Leclair and Mikael Renberg to form the Legion of Doom. Behind this combination of size and skill and the goaltending of Ron Hextall (who had been reacquired that season), the Flyers won the Atlantic Division and made the playoffs again, ending the longest drought in franchise history. The Flyers cruised through the first two rounds, but lost to the Cup champion Devils in the Conference Finals.
The Flyers continued to dominate over the next few years. Lindros and Leclair were two of the dominant offensive players in the league, and the Flyers made it deep into the playoffs on numerous occasions, including another Cup Finals appearance in 1996-1997 where they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. Lindros suffered a series of series injuries, including a collapsed lung and two concussions, after which he demanded a trade. In the seasons leading up to the lockout in 2004-2005, the Flyers continued to have success, with Peter Forsberg, Keith Primeau, Simon Gagne and Kim Jonsson leading the way. However, in 2006-2007, the Flyers were the worst team in the NHL, accumulating only 56 points and missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. At the trade deadline and the subsequent offseason, the Flyers made numerous moves that have rejuvenated the franchise. Forsberg was dealt to Nashville and the Flyers aquired Scottie Upshall, Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell, Martin Biron and Daniel Briere were acquired from the Buffalo Sabres. Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul arrived from Edmonton and Braydon Coburn was picked up from Atlanta. All of these players have played major roles in Philadelphia’s success in the 2007-08 season, in which the Flyers made it to the Conference Finals where they lost to Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
Stanley Cups won: 1973-74, 1974-75
Notable Players: Bill Barber, Martin Biron, Donald Brashear, Daniel Briere, Rod Brind’amour, Jeff Carter, Roman Cechmanek, Bobby Clarke, Eric Desjardins, Peter Forsberg,Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell, Derian Hatcher, Ron Hextall, Tim Kerr, Pelle Lindbergh, John Leclair, Reggie Leach, Eric Lindros, Bernie Parent, Keith Primeau, Mark Recchi, Mikael Renberg, Mike Richards, Dave Schultz, Jason Smith, Kimmo Timonen, Rick Tocchet