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 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.
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.
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.