Flyers

Why Flyers should retire Mark Recchi's No. 8

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AP Images

Why Flyers should retire Mark Recchi's No. 8

Flyers president Paul Holmgren called it the “highest honor in franchise history.”

And it’s certainly a very exclusive club.

Eric Lindros last Thursday became just the sixth player in over 50 seasons of Flyers hockey to have his number retired by the organization, although there are actually eight numbers that will never be worn again.

The Flyers removed Pelle Lindbergh’s No. 31 out of circulation shortly after his death in 1985, and the NHL officially retired Wayne Gretzky’s 99 league-wide amongst its member organizations in 2000.

But with the recent retirement of No. 88, Flyers fans may not see another name and number raised to the rafters in a very long time.

Unless.

Unless the organization makes strong consideration for the guy who wore No. 8, Mark Recchi.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of the Recchi argument.

Hockey Hall of Fame
Recchi has already cleared the tallest obstacle — induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, which now seems to be a franchise prerequisite that started with Bill Barber. Barber’s No. 7 was raised to the Spectrum rafters three weeks after his Hall of Fame induction in 1990.

Mark Howe followed suit as the Flyers staged his No. 2 retirement ceremony in March 2012 — four months following his HHOF induction in 2011, and now Lindros.

Recchi was enshrined in 2017 along with Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne, Dave Andreychuk, plus a few others.

A productive 10-year Flyers career
Recchi’s career spanned 1,652 games, or more than twice the length of Lindros’ NHL career. While he didn’t play the majority of his lengthy career in Philadelphia, Recchi played more games (602) with the Flyers than any other team by a considerable margin. Recchi’s next longest tenure was 389 games with Pittsburgh.

In terms of games played in Philadelphia, Recchi ranks 18th in franchise history, having played more games than Lindros (482) and even Howe (594). Along with Bob Clarke and Barber, Recchi is the only other Hall of Famer to play 600 games with the Flyers' organization.

Recchi also put up some massive numbers, scoring 232 goals and 627 points — one of five players (with at least 400 games played) who averaged a point per game. Lindros is the gold standard for the orange and black with 1.36 points per game. Recchi’s 1.04 clip trails only Tim Kerr, Brian Propp and Clarke, and is actually better than Barber’s 0.98 points per game average.

Recchi currently holds the franchise record for most points in a single season with 123, a record that has stood for 25 years, and along with Clarke, they’re the only two players in franchise history with multiple 100-point seasons.

Flyers Hall of Fame
Despite the previously mentioned accomplishments, Recchi awaits the Flyers Hall of Fame — a group that includes 20 players along with five coaches and executives.

Hall of Fame induction is voted upon by a combination of media members and team officials. Since Recchi was actively playing until his retirement after the 2010-11 season, his name hasn’t been much of a consideration. That should change moving forward.

With Claude Giroux recently passing Recchi for eighth place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list, it should be noted Recchi still has more points than any player currently eligible for the Flyers HOF.

Postseason accomplishments
Here’s where the case for Recchi gets a little murky. With 36 career playoff points in 65 postseason games, Recchi ranks just 25th in franchise history. However, that total is still three points better than Gary Dornhoefer's playoff totals.

Recchi’s most productive playoff run came in 2000 when the Flyers reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final before losing a 2-1 elimination game to the Devils. Recchi scored 18 points in 18 postseason games that year.

However, Recchi’s signature playoff moment with the Flyers came in triple-overtime of Game 4 of the 2003 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That game-winning goal evened the series at 2-2, as the Flyers eventually took down the Leafs in seven games.

However, Recchi will always be remembered for winning three Stanley Cup championships with three different organizations: Penguins in 1991, Hurricanes in 2006 and the Bruins in 2011 at the age of 42.

The verdict
Curiously, for a player who scored 577 career goals spanning four decades, Recchi was selected to just one All-Star team in his 22-year career (1992 with the Penguins). He never played the majority of his career with one team, but his time spent in Philadelphia was the longest — 602 of 1,652 games (36 percent).

Recchi is certainly Flyers Hall of Fame-worthy, and if consideration is given to the overall greatness of No. 8, he very well should be the seventh player to have his number retired.

Why the Flyers? How Canadians decided to 'bleed orange'

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John Boruk/NBCSP

Why the Flyers? How Canadians decided to 'bleed orange'

Aaron Roberts proudly wore his No. 88 Eric Lindros jersey when the Flyers traveled to Edmonton in December. Aaron also owns a John LeClair jersey, a Wayne Simmonds sweater, and at the time, a Claude Giroux that was on order.    

Roberts, like many who attended that game, is an Orange and Black diehard who was born and raised in Canada.

“Growing up when Philly won their Cups I started watching hockey,” Roberts said. “I don’t know. I went with a winner then and I just never, ever veered away from it. Of course, there’s temptation, but it’s always been Philadelphia for me.”

It’s not unusual to see a Philly faithful make their way out of the Canadian woodwork. Their popularity even rivals that of American-based Original Six teams.  

“I find that when I go to games Flyers fans are more friendly, like everyone wants to high five and stuff, which is cool,” said Troy Krechuniak, who lives in Calgary, but grew up in Edmonton. “I had to go through all of that (the Oilers winning the Stanley Cup). That’s the problem going through the (Wayne) Gretzky years, 1985 Game 5, 1987 Game 7.” 

So why this allegiance to a team located hundreds of miles away in another country? 

At one time, the Philadelphia Flyers were as Canadian as the Montreal Canadiens themselves, considering they’re still the last team to win a Stanley Cup with an all-Canadian roster. 

“First off, you choose the identity of a team when you’re probably six-to-nine years old, and at my age, I cheered for the Broad Street Bullies - Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz and so forth,” said Rick LeFort of Saskatchewan. “I moved to Manitoba years later. Manitoba connections are Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach.”

More than 40 years after bringing the city of Philadelphia it’s first Stanley Cup championship, the Broad Street Bullies left behind a legacy that has impacted a region where hockey is indeed a religion.

“Being in Calgary when there was no team, you got to choose which team you wanted to affiliate yourself with,” said Shawn Cochlan of Langdon, Alberta. “I did love that brand of hockey, and yet, a lot of my friends didn’t. I liked Philadelphia better because they were tougher.”

And the allegiance to the Flyers has been passed down from a generation of fans to their children and siblings.  

“My aunt and uncle were big Flyers fans, and I loved being an outsider,” said Ryan Doram of Edmonton. “Every year when the Flyers come to Edmonton we make sure we come to the games. I loved Lindros. I loved the Recchi years, and you always find your new favorites I guess. You always find players you look and gravitate to.”

Giroux has that gravitational pull. As the Flyers hit Ottawa and Montreal one final time this weekend, you’ll see No. 28 jerseys scattered throughout the arenas for the Hearst, Ontario native.

“We haven’t won a cup in a while. We’ve been there four or five times, but we’re getting better. I like what Ron Hextall is doing, and we’re going in the right direction,” said 54-year-old Tom Banks. 

“You cut me in the winter months, I bleed orange.”

Pekka Rinne notches milestone in Predators' rout

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USA Today Images

Pekka Rinne notches milestone in Predators' rout

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pekka Rinne made 33 saves in his 300th career win and the Nashville Predators routed the San Jose Sharks 7-1 on Thursday night.

Nick Bonino, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson each had a goal and an assist, and Scott Hartnell, Kevin Fiala and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville, which has won three straight. The Predators moved within one point of expansion Vegas for the Western Conference lead.

Nashville defensemen Roman Josi and P.K. Subban each had two assists.

All of Rinne's wins have come with Nashville. He tied former Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun for 33rd place in NHL history.

Logan Couture had the San Jose goal. The loss snapped the Sharks' three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Wild use big 2nd period to top Devils
NEWARK, N.J. -- Joel Eriksson Ek and Chris Stewart scored in a 39-second span during Minnesota's three-goal second period, and the Wild rallied from two down to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Thursday night.

Wild defenseman Mike Reilly also scored in the second period and Eric Staal iced the game with an empty-net goal, his 900th NHL point. Backup goalie Alex Stalock made 38 saves as the Wild moved into third place in the Central Division after winning for the 11th time in 17 games (11-3-3).

Taylor Hall and Stefan Noesen scored for the Devils, who have lost two in a row after a four-game winning streak. Eddie Lack made 21 saves.

Hall's 13-game point streak is the longest in NHL this season, one more than David Pastrnak of Boston.

Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau made the right moves in this one, inserting Reilly and Stewart into the lineup and electing to give No. 1 goaltender Devan Dubnyk a night off (see full recap).

Matthews exits Maple Leafs’ SO victory with injury
TORONTO -- Tyler Bozak scored the shootout winner and the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the New York Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night.

Auston Matthews tipped in Jake Gardiner's shot to tie it 3-all with 3:29 remaining in the third period, but later left the game favoring his right side after taking a hit from Cal Clutterbuck and did not return. The 20-year-old Toronto star missed six games in December with a concussion and another four games with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly had the other Maple Leafs goals, and Frederik Andersen made 32 saves. Toronto (38-20-5) has won eight straight at home.

Ryan Pulock, Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle scored for the Islanders (29-26-7), and Jaroslav Halak turned aside 28 shots. New York, one point out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, dropped to 4-6-2 since the All-Star break and 13-15-3 on the road this season.

With his three points, Barzal has a team-leading 65 and a 14-point lead over Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL's rookie scoring race (see full recap).