Flyers

'Keith the Thief' was more than just a GM

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'Keith the Thief' was more than just a GM

They called him “Keith the Thief.”

It was a title bestowed upon Keith Allen by the Philadelphia media in the 1970s and the Flyers general manager wore it with every bit of pride as that famous, flaming orange jacket that he insisted on being photographed in.

This is how Keith Allen, the greatest general manager in Flyers history, earned the nickname with these trades:

• Darryl Edestrand and Larry McKillop to Hershey for Barry Ashbee.

• Mike Walton to Boston for Rick MacLeish and Danny Schock.

• Serge Bernier, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Lesuk to Los Angeles for Bill Flett, Ed Joyal, Ross Lonsberry and Jean Potvin.

• Brent Hughes and Pierre Plante to St. Louis for Andre Dupont and a third-round pick.

• Potvin and a future player to the Islanders for Terry Crisp.

• A first-round pick and future considerations (Doug Favell) to Toronto for the rights to re-acquire Bernie Parent and a second-round pick.

• Larry Wright, Al MacAdam and a first-round pick to California for Reggie Leach.

And that’s just the trades.

We haven’t talked about the players he drafted. Such as Bill Barber, Bill Clement, Jimmy Watson and Tom Bladon.

Or the crucial checking-line free agent center he signed in Orest Kindrachuk.

Take a good look at the names above because just about every one of them formed the Flyers’ two Stanley Cup rosters in 1974 and 1975.

Oh, Allen also convinced club chairman Ed Snider to take a gamble on a very successful coach in the minor ranks named Fred Shero, who Snider admitted he had never heard of before the Flyers hired him in 1971 on pure “gut” instinct, Allen would later say.

“One of the best general managers of all time,” Bob Clarke said on Tuesday night upon hearing of Allen’s passing at the age of 90.

He had lived most of his retirement years in Florida and was especially fond of Marco Island.

Parent and Clarke may have been the two Flyers in history most responsible for the two Cups on the ice, but without question, Allen was the genius behind the scenes, willing to take risks and make judgment calls based on little more than first-hand accounts minus formal scouting reports.

What he left behind was the legacy upon which the Flyers built their hockey empire in Philadelphia.

He started with the Flyers even before they were officially awarded a franchise, coached the team through 1969-70, then succeeded Bud Poile as general manager.

As Flyer historian Jay Greenberg pointed out, in the 14 years Allen sat in the GM chair, seven of his clubs reached the league semifinals while amassing 100 points. Meanwhile, 13 of his players would appear in the Cup Final.

“Keith Allen always found a way to bring exceptional talent to Broad Street and weave it into the fabric of a team that would succeed and endure at the highest level, because in Philadelphia, for his Flyers and their fans, no other level was acceptable,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

“The National Hockey League sends heartfelt condolences to Keith's family, to his friends and to the Flyers organization, which has lost one of its patriarchs.”

Allen was elected to the NHL Hall of Fame’s “Builders Category” in 1992.

“Keith was the first coach in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers and a man for whom I have tremendous respect,” Snider said.

“In my mind, he was and always will be one of the greatest general managers in the history of hockey. He was known as 'Keith the Thief.' I never knew of a bad deal he made.

“This team would never have reached the level of success we have had over the past 48 years if it were not for Keith.”

Funny thing is, every player who played for him, idolized him.

“Keith was one of those men you rarely come across who was fatherly, grandfatherly to all of us players and families,” Clarke said. “And yet was tough enough and strong enough to do the things that were necessary so that we had the right players to win a Stanley Cup.

“Every player who ever played under his leadership liked Keith. Everybody traded liked Keith. One of the few men in hockey, and maybe the only man, who everybody liked. Didn’t have a person who disliked him in the world. A wonderful, wonderful man.”

His personality was such that Allen often referred to the beat reporters covering his team as “his boys.”

In the formative years leading up to and surpassing the Flyers' two Cups, Allen developed close personal bonds with those who covered his team. They weren’t house men, but Allen treated them like insiders.

“Come to the bar, boys, we’ve got something to talk about,” he would say as the beat reporters joined him.

On more than one occasion, Allen would talk about the team and potential moves he might make, with the understanding it was off the record.

You don’t find that kind of trust among GMs and reporters these days, but it existed back then.

Quite simply, Keith Allen was a man who trusted himself and his judgment about people in and even around the game of hockey, above all else.

It’s why the Flyers won and were able to create a legacy of winning that endures to this day.

Panthers 2, Flyers 1: Late push not enough as 6-game point streak ends

Panthers 2, Flyers 1: Late push not enough as 6-game point streak ends

BOX SCORE

The six-game point streak is over.

The Flyers tripped up at home Tuesday night for a 2-1 loss to the Panthers, giving them their first regulation defeat since that 6-1 nightmare against the Islanders on Oct. 27. 

Prior to this loss, which snapped a season-best three-game winning streak, the Flyers (9-8-1) had gone 5-0-1 after that forgettable clunker at the Wells Fargo Center. Since Oct. 30, they were tied for first in the NHL with a plus-11 goal differential.

Meanwhile, the Panthers (7-5-3) own the NHL's longest current win streak at five games.

• Facing just their second multi-goal deficit in the last seven games, the Flyers had the Panthers completely under siege in the third period. They came hard and you certainly can't fault their effort trying to rally.

The Flyers created their chances and outshot the Panthers 16-6 in the final stanza but couldn't find the equalizer to push things past regulation.

• Oskar Lindblom started the third-period onslaught with a pretty cross-ice feed to Jakub Voracek, who brought the Flyers within 2-1 just 3:55 into the frame.

Lindblom, only 22 and in his first full NHL season, has shown excellent passing ability alongside Voracek and Nolan Patrick. He has eight points in his last seven games and has turned into one of the Flyers' biggest positives thus far.

• Despite earning 11 of a possible 14 points in their last seven games, the Flyers haven't gotten their power play going — a real surprise as it looked like it would be a strength entering 2018-19. It went 0 for 1 Tuesday and is 3 for 39 since Oct. 13, worst in the NHL.

The Flyers have made up for it with 41 goals at 5-on-5, second most in the NHL.

• It's scary to think where this penalty kill would be without Scott Laughton. He has been brilliant this season, especially when the Flyers are shorthanded. He's aggressive and attacks the puck carrier, making the opposition uncomfortable.

If the Flyers had more of his effort when down a man, their penalty kill wouldn't be ranked 30th in the league.

• Brian Elliott, who entered with a 1.68 goals-against average and .938 save percentage over his previous seven games, allowed his first goal since Nov. 1 against the Kings. Overall, he made a number of big saves and stopped 28 of 30 shots, including this one.

The second goal allowed could have been stopped as it was a clear shot from straightaway off the stick of Evgenii Dadonov in the second period. He'll want that one back and it proved to be a major difference.

• Ivan Provorov didn't have his best game. He had a pair of tripping penalties — one was in desperation to prevent a breakaway — and some of his passes didn't have that usual crispness you see when the 21-year-old moves the puck.

Provorov had been a plus-7 over the Flyers' past six games and seemed to be turning a corner. He rarely makes the same mistake twice, so consider this a rare hiccup.

• Following a stretch of eight points in his last three games, Claude Giroux went scoreless and still sits at 699 career points.

• The Flyers practice Wednesday in Voorhees, New Jersey, before hosting the Devils Thursday at 7 p.m. on NBCSP for Game 4 of their five-game homestand.

The Devils entered Tuesday having lost nine of their last 11 games.

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Flyers vs. Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Two of the hotter teams in the NHL square off Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers (9-7-1) host the Panthers (6-5-3).

Let's look at the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers are playing their best hockey of the season right as James van Riemsdyk nears his return (see story). Record-wise, the Flyers are actually off to a better start than last season, when they were 8-7-2 through 17 games. That was also before the Flyers dropped 10 straight games and still recovered to make the playoffs.

These Flyers are 5-0-1 since Oct. 30, a stretch in which they're tied for second in points (11) and knotted in first for best goal differential (plus-11) in the NHL.

The Flyers are also on a season-best three-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 14-6 in that span. The last time they've won four consecutive games was Feb. 16-26, when they reeled off six straight last season.

• The Panthers come in on their own high. Florida is riding the NHL's longest current win streak at four games after losing eight of its first 10 games. However, six of those eight defeats were by one goal. During their four-game run, the Panthers have outscored the opposition 17-6.

Goalie Roberto Luongo has been exceptional in four games this season, going 3-0-0 with a 1.42 goals-against average and 100 saves on 105 shots. The 39-year-old is 10-11-3 with a 2.76 GAA and .921 save percentage in 26 career games against the Flyers.

• During the 5-0-1 push, has there been anyone more important to the Flyers than Sean Couturier? 

In the Flyers' 4-7-0 start, Couturier had three goals and was without an assist or a multi-point game. Over the past six games, the first-line center has put up eight points (four goals, four assists) and a plus-6 rating.

It's no coincidence that his success has coincided with the Flyers' turnaround. Last season, Couturier was a plus-48 in wins compared to a minus-14 in losses.

• Probably the second-most important player: Claude Giroux.

The Flyers' captain has four goals and seven assists in the last six games and is one point away from 700 on his career. Since Feb. 8 of last season, only one player has more points than Giroux's 66: Connor McDavid at 68.

• Brian Elliott is finding a groove in net, going 5-2-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average and .938 save percentage over his last seven games.

Projected lineup

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny 
Oskar Lindblom-Nolan Patrick-Jakub Voracek
Dale Weise-Jordan Weal-Wayne Simmonds
Scott Laughton-Jori Lehtera-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Shayne Gostisbehere-Christian Folin
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Calvin Pickard

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