The 8 Best And 7 Worst Moves In Philadelphia Flyers History
In professional sports, there are many ways to build an organization. Free agency, trades and drafting are the big three items, of course, for player acquisition. There are, of course, other key positions in the team leadership structure that are vital to an organization’s success or failure. If a team hired the right or wrong general manager, player personnel decision maker or coach, it could either set a team up to have a dynastic run for years of great success, or it could mire an organization into the depths of mediocrity for years and years. In other words, it is absolutely imperative to make the right calls.
As important as it is to make these right calls, sometimes you do make them, and sometimes you don’t. At times, you as a general manager are hand-cuffed, either by way of poor scouting reports, or a money issue (like, you have a really expensive player you need or want to get rid of). What does it all mean? It means that sometimes, you make a move that makes the team demonstrably better, and makes you look like a genius. But, then there are always those moves that you make that has an adverse impact on the team, and you get treated as a goat-the bad kind, not the good kind.
The comforting factor here? Every team, every general manager, has made good moves and bad moves. They can almost be called a right of passage. Even the most successful general managers ever have made deals that they did not come out ahead on-sometimes it’s just the cards you are dealt, and sometimes loyalty blinds you and leads you to make moves that, in hindsight, you would not have made (like extending an aging star, or trading for an over-the-hill fan favorite).
Now, it’s time for us to look at those moves, the good and the bad, made over the course of the fifty years of existence of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team. Some were excellent. Some were maddening. It’s time to look at the seven worst, and eight best.
15. BEST: ACQUIRING BERNIE PARENT
He is arguably the best goalie the Flyers have had (thus far). I put an asterisk on this one, however, by saying I do not think he was the most talented-and that’s something even Bernie Parent would probably agree with, because he mentored the player I’d consider to be the most talented and gifted in Flyers history-the late Pelle Lindbergh. But, Lindbergh did not play long enough to stake a claim on best goalie, and Parent did. And how great was he as a Flyer? He only managed to help the team to back to back Stanley Cup wins-the only two Cups the franchise has one thus far. In fairness, the Flyers actually had to re-acquire Parent, as he was initially sent to Toronto. That wasn’t a bad thing though, as Parent became a better goalie, and part of the trading that got him to Toronto, helped the Flyers get Rick MacLeish. But in short order, Parent wanted out of Toronto, and the Flyers swapped goalies and sent a draft pick to the Maple Leafs to re-acquire the franchise’s netminder. No one tends to remember the trades that sent Bernie out of town and then back. But we all remember the two Cups.
14. WORST: TRADING FOR ADAM OATES
Yes, the Flyers had Adam Oates. Very briefly, and very regrettably. Why is this bad? I mean, Adam Oates was a talented hockey player, right? The team picked him up from Washington at the deadline, and it was a foolish move that just about anyone could see from a mile away. Oates didn’t do badly, mind you, but he wasn’t around long-he was, after all, the quintessential short term, deadline deal rental player. He did not help the Flyers much, as they were bounced out of the playoffs after the first round. So, right there the deal stings. But the cost? That’s where the pain really kicks in. In order to get Oates, someone thought it was a great idea to send a young goalie to the Capitals, but that was not enough. Nope, in addition to Maxime Ouellet, they added 1st, 2nd and 3rd round draft picks. I’m sorry folks. I know I am not a GM, but you don’t give up that much for a rental.
13. BEST: ACQUIRING ROD BRIND’AMOUR
Before there was number 88, we had number 17. Acquiring Brind’Amour cost the Flyers a fan favorite, gritty center in the form of Ron Sutter. But, as much as fans liked Sutter, they would absolutely come to love and adore Rod Brind’Amour. He spent over eight seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, and scored nearly a point a game. He was, without a doubt, one of the most popular Flyers. Unfortunately for him (and Flyers fans) there was no Stanley Cup raised during his tenure in the organization, but they did trade him to Carolina as part of the deal to bring the Flyers Keith Primeau. That trade worked out decently for both parties, but fans will forever remember Rod’s great years in orange and black.
12. WORST: RECEIVING STEVE EMINGER IN RETURN FOR A DRAFT PICK THAT WOULD BECOME JOHN CARLSON
The Flyers have long craved stud defensemen. Most NHL teams do. As a lifelong fan, I can tell you that until recently, the Flyers were largely terrible at drafting and developing defensemen. Most of the best defensemen in Flyers history were either free agents or acquired by way of a trade. So, I need to preface this by saying there is a chance that, had the Flyers kept the draft pick, they would not have picked Carlson, who has enjoyed a successful career thus far. But, the Capitals did pick him, so that’s what we use as comparison. As for Eminger? It was kind of a “blink and you missed it” tenure in Philadelphia. He wasn’t here long, and when he was here, he did nothing of note. It’s the definition of a horrible trade.
11. BEST: MARK RECCHI FOR RICK TOCCHET
The trade itself was bigger than that, involving also Kjell Samuelsson and Ken Wregget, but the big pieces were Tocchet and Recchi. Fans at the time weren’t enamored with the steep price for the young Recchi, as guys like Tocchet and Samuelsson had both been fan favorites and long time Flyers. But in Recchi, the team got younger, quicker and more offensively talented. And, in the grand scheme, Recchi had a much bigger role to fulfill in Flyers history, as he is part of another massive Philadephia trade that was critical to the team’s success. Both for his time as a Philadelphia Flyer, and for his value in that yet-to-come trade, fans would easily warm up to number eight, as before he left town, he would be one component on the “crazy eights” line, alongside Eric Lindros and Brent Fedyk.