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Best of the Decade – Flyers

Posted by Chris Shafer On December - 31 - 2009

The decade for the Flyers will forever be described by the ups and downs. The organization went in as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and would roll out as such by the end of 2009 despite great periods, slumps, dramatic turnarounds, and even the worst season in franchise history.

The Flyers All-Decade Team

W -- Simon Gagne (2000-Present): 692 GP -- 270 G -- 261 A -- 531 P

Future hall-of-famer Mark Recchi scored the second most points for the Flyers this decade.

W -- Mark Recchi (2000-2004): 451 GP -- 142 G -- 255 A -- 397 P

W -- John LeClair (2000-2004): 350 GP -- 124 G -- 124 A -- 248 P

W -- Mike Knuble (2005-2009): 334 GP -- 120 G -- 115 A -- 235 P

W -- Jeremy Roenick (2001-2004): 252 GP -- 74 G -- 120 A -- 194 P

W -- Danny Briere (2007-Present): 163 GP -- 66 G -- 76 A -- 142 P

W -- Scott Hartnell (2007-Present): 224 GP -- 67 G -- 69 A -- 136 P

W -- Sami Kapanen (2003-2008): 364 GP -- 53 G -- 76 A -- 129 P

C -- Mike Richards (2005-Present): 358 GP -- 103 G -- 171 A -- 274 P

C -- Jeff Carter (2005-Present): 375 GP -- 133 G -- 127 A -- 260 P

C -- Keith Primeau (2000-2005): 370 GP -- 99 G -- 148 A -- 247 P

C -- Peter Forsberg (2005-2007): 106 GP -- 34 G -- 89 A -- 123 P

D -- Eric Desjardins (2000-2006): 437 GP -- 54 GP -- 164 A -- 218 P

Kim Johnsson was an important part of the Flyers' blueline for a number of years.

D -- Kim Johnsson (2001-2006): 324 GP -- 42 G -- 116 A -- 158 P

D -- Kimmo Timonen (2007-Present): 215 GP -- 14 G -- 100 A -- 114 P

D -- Derian Hatcher (2005-2008): 224 GP -- 10 G -- 28 A -- 38 P

D -- Joni Pitkanen (2003-2007): 227 GP -- 25 G -- 96 A -- 121 P

D -- Braydon Coburn (2007-Present): 236 GP -- 24 G -- 69 A -- 93 P

G -- Roman Cechmanek (2000-2003): 186 GP -- 101 W -- 23 SO -- 2.17 GAA -- 0.917 SV%

G -Martin Biron (2007-2009): 156 GP -- 76 W -- 9 SO -- 2.78 GAA -- 0.913 SV%

G -Robert Esche (2002-2007): 153 GP -- 73 W -- 8 SO -- 2.87 GAA -- 0.902 SV%

There is likely some dispute about Biron and Esche, but since both have similar goaltending stats as well as great playoff runs (Esche 2004, Biron 2008), I thought they both deserve a shot to make the team.

Honorable Mention: Justin Williams (2000-2004)  and Chris Therien (2000-2006).

Top 3 Players

Keith Primeau became a Philadelphia legend during the 2004 playoffs.

Keith Primeau -- Say what you want about his salary or his return investment on the scoreboard. Keith Primeau rode into Philadelphia on the Rod Brind’Amour trade. Brind’Amour, a fan favorite of many Flyers fans, was lost in a trade with plenty of rumors swirling around. Primeau caught the wrong end of that, but if he came into Philadelphia as an almost unwelcome salary forward, he certainly left as a legend. In the magical 2004 playoff run he carried an entire team on his back running on heart alone. The old man still had some fight left, and as captain, he brought the team within one win of making it back to the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately the Tampa Bay Lightning, who beat the Flyers in seven games during that final Eastern Conference Final of the old-era NHL, would go on to win the Stanley Cup. With the lockout destroying any hope for a 2004-05 season, many of the Flyers legends including John LeClair, Mark Recchi, and Jeremy Roenick would move on or retire. Primeau stuck with the team and accounted for a goal and six assists in nine games during the 2005-06 season before a concussion ended his career. He coached high school hockey in the area before taking a player development position with the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. He remains one of the game’s foremost spokesmen for concussion protection and is even donating his brain to science upon his passing. He remains a legend in Philadelphia.

Simon Gagne -- Simon Gagne has seen all of Flyers’ hockey for a decade. Often though, he is an afterthought. Even with injuries he has made his way into the Flyers’ all-time scoring lists, and his love for the city remains even when the fans sometimes forget him. He was a promising young rookie when Brian Boucher carried the Flyers into the 2000 playoffs. He was there to watch Lindros’ career fall apart because of concussions. He was there with Desjardins and LeClair. He fought through the 2004 playoffs of legend and returned to play with the Peter Forsbereg, the one that got away, even through the black season. He’s seen the movement of many friends and teammates, the fall of the Flyers’ greats of the 90′s, and the rise of the new generation post-lockout. Gagne may not be the toughest or most hard-nosed Flyer ever to suit up, but he has seen this team through thick and thin; through injury, defeat, and heartbreak as well as victory.

Mike Richards - The advent of Mike Richards in Philadelphia was nothing short of a phenomenon. After the black year, it was Richards’ complete game that brought this team back to winning. Flyers hockey was once again, fast, hard-nosed, and high scoring. Richards played the game with a lot of heart, and everyone loved him for it. He was rewarded with a contract lasting until 2020 as well as a ‘C’ on his chest. When the team started to appear as if it was lacking heart though, the young captain was the first to take the blame. He reacted defensively when the media prodded into his partying lifestyle away from the rink. It was Richards and his good friend, Jeff Carter that took the fall for the slump of November 2009 whether it was their fault or not. Their scoring, along with some help from Briere and Gagne, would bring the Flyers back into a winning streak to close out 2009. The fans are still not sure what to consider Mike Richards just yet, but there are a lot of expectations on his shoulders.

Honorable Mention

  • Danny Briere -- After the black season the Flyers acquired Danny Briere to put Philadelphia on the hockey map once again. Despite questions about injury and salary he continues to play hard on every shift. The midget scoring machine is easily one of the reasons the Flyers were successful in the latter half of the decade whether people believe it or not.
  • Peter Forsberg -- Forsberg did not stay long, but the great “what if” had come back to Philadelphia, the team that traded him for Eric Lindros right after the draft, for another shot. Injury issues caught up with him once again, but for a short time, when he was on the top line with Simon Gagne, the city of Philadelphia fell in love with him. He remains a fan favorite despite his short stint with the orange and black.
  • Chris Pronger -- The Flyers had come full circle by the end of the decade. They had been the favorites, had gone through the stages of an underdog, had dropped to the league basement, and even returned brighter than ever. Chris Pronger was acquired in a trade on draft day 2009 to get the Flyers over the hump. He was inked to a long-term contract and has so far been as advertised. Many have said that the Flyers and Chris Pronger were a match made in heaven…possibly hell. So far they have been right, but the results will have to speak for themselves.

Top 5 Moments

2004 Playoffs -- The entirety of the 2004 postseason was absolutely magical for the Orange and Black. It was the stuff of legends that will be told in Flyers history for years. Captain Keith Primeau brought a fire that Philadelphia had not seen in a long time, and even though it did not end in victory, it will forever be known as the highlight of the decade.

Lupul Lifts Flyers Back To Top - The 2006-07 season was the worst in franchise history. The black season had ripped a whole in Flyers hockey that many worried would last a long time. The Flyers had not missed the playoffs many times in their history, but that season in particular was terrible. The organization immediately tried to get back on top. They moved Forsberg for Upshall, Hartnell, and Timonen. Coburn was acquired from Atlanta. Biron came in, and the organization signed Briere. The Flyers came out hot in 2007-08, but almost immediately Gagne was lost for the entire season. That was when Richards emerged as a Flyer and, along with many new acquisitions, carried the team back to the playoffs. The orange and black were still not legitimate though. They were not a team to be feared again just yet. They entered a tough series against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. It raged on until the overtime of game seven where a goal by Joffrey Lupul announced the Flyers’ return to the NHL spotlight.

Flyers vs. Senators Roster Brawl 2004 -- Possibly the most memorable fight in all of Flyers’ history. Everyone knows where they were and what they were doing when this massive brawl broke out.

Hartnell Leads Great Comeback in 2008 -- On December 11th, 2008 the Flyers fell down 5-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes by the 3rd period. Hartnell had a huge fight as well as a hat trick as the orange and black came back to win the game in a shootout. It marked the biggest comeback in Flyers’ history.

Primeau 5 OT Goal in 2000 -- On May 5th, 2000 Primeau worked his magic to win the longest running game in NHL history in the 5th OT over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Future

Under a new head coach, Peter Laviolette, the Flyers are trying to regain their composure as a legitimate Stanley Cup favorite. The core is set up on the blueline and in the offensive zone. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, and James vanRiemsdyk have bright futures ahead of them. Even Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and Ryan Parent still have some growing to do. Meanwhile veterans like Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, Chris Pronger, and Kimmo Timonen will keep this team together.

The season right now is still a question mark, but could this be the generation that brings the Stanley Cup back to Philadelphia? We’ll find out in the next decade.

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