Claude Giroux

Fanspeak: Clarke voted greatest Flyer in franchise history


This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Philadelphia Flyers

1. Bobby Clarke (994)

2. Bernie Parent (379)

3. Eric Lindros (368)

4. John Leclair (182)

5. Claude Giroux (108)

6. Bill Barber (101)

7. Mark Howe (79)

Fifteen seasons, three Hart Trophies, two Stanley Cups and an induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

That sentence is more than enough to explain why Bobby Clarke was the runaway winner as the greatest Flyer of all time. But it wasn’t just his on-ice exploits that endeared him to the Philly faithful — Clarke’s fearless attitude, gap-toothed grin and near-lifelong dedication to the franchise all contributed to him becoming Mr. Flyer.

Clarke’s essence was summed up during his jersey retirement ceremony in Philadelphia during the 2010-11 season, when former teammate Terry Crisp had this to say (per

“I’m always asked, ‘If you’re going to start a franchise, what player would you like to have?’ Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux? There’s one player in my mind and that’s Bob Clarke. To me, Bob Clarke was the ultimate warrior. When he played, there was only one way to play and that was to win … take no prisoners.

“A lot of guys today go into the locker room and mouth off and don’t back it up. When Clarkie stood up and was talking and preaching at you, he then went out and took it on the ice. If you’re going in a foxhole, you want Bobby Clarke in that hole with you.”

That approach carried over to Clarke’s life as a hockey executive as well. He spent 19 seasons as Flyers GM, leading the team to three Stanley Cup Finals but, perhaps most famously, wildly feuding with the No. 3 name on this list — Eric Lindros — in what became one of the most contentious hockey relationships of the last few decades.

Few players are more identified with their team than Clarke is with the Flyers. Fitting that he tops this list.

It’s Philadelphia Flyers Day at PHT


Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Philadelphia Flyers.

If there was a team whose season best resembled a roller coaster last season, it was the Philadelphia Flyers.

After getting off to a 0-3-0 start, the Flyers fired coach Peter Laviolette and brought in Craig Berube. Things didn’t get better right away as they went 3-6-0 in the next nine games and appeared to be in deep trouble after the first month of the season.

That’s when captain Claude Giroux took over. After decreeing they would make the playoffs, the real Flyers showed up going 39-21-10 the rest of the way and finishing third in the Metropolitan Division. Giroux had a season to remember finishing with 28 goals and 86 points – third best in the league behind Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf. As it turned out, those were his fellow finalists for the Hart Trophy that Crosby ran away with.

That’s neither here nor there though because Giroux’s performance was the kind of thing that makes you a legend in Philly. Not only did he help carry the team, he also helped bring others out their shell.

Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek had a career-years. Voracek had career-bests with 23 goals and 62 points and Simmonds did the same with 29 goals and 60 points.

One guy who had a hard time was Vincent Lecavalier. The new-old guy on the block did have 20 goals, but with just 37 points and looking not like the Vinny of old, he wound up in Berube’s dog house on the fourth line.

On defense, Mark Streit’s first season in Philly saw him produce the most points from the blue line with 44. Kimmo Timonen was next best with 35 and Braydon Coburn’s physicality made him a favorite. Perhaps the biggest surprise came in goal.

Steve Mason was the No. 1 guy in net and didn’t look like the guy we saw at the end of his run with the Columbus Blue Jackets. His .917 save percentage and 2.50 goals-against average helped keep the Flyers rolling along all year while Ray Emery battled hard but didn’t put up great numbers.

In the end, all the good stuff didn’t much matter as they were bounced out in the first round by the New York Rangers in seven games.

Offseason recap

While we’ve become accustomed to the Flyers stealing headlines in the summer, the hiring of Ron Hextall as GM virtually slowed that to a crawl.

The big move this summer was the trade that sent Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets for former Flyer R.J. Umberger. The Flyers felt they were done with Hartnell and his contract only to bring in Umberger and his shorter contract but not-as-good performance.

The biggest blow may have come from Timonen discovering multiple blood clots in his system – something that may keep him out for most of the season. That development led to the Flyers taking a chance and signing Michael Del Zotto. Philly also added Nick Schultz on defense to try and help add depth.

One move they haven’t made is moving Lecavalier. While rumors persisted for most of the summer that he would be finding his way out of town, and he nearly was dealt to Nashville, he’s still on the roster and the Flyers want more from him.

Flyers’ Mason skates for first time since breaking finger


Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason resumed on-ice training on Monday, marking the first time he’s been on the ice since breaking his finger about three weeks ago, according to the Philadelphia Daily News’ Frank Seravalli.

The 26-year-old goalie suffered that injury playing ball hockey this summer.

With training camp starting up in September, Mason should probably not feel many/any ill effects from this mishap. Of course, there’s always a chance that he’ll have a setback or injure it again, but it seems like the Flyers dodged another random offseason injury bullet.

(They weren’t quite as lucky with Claude Giroux heading into the 2013-14 season, although he eventually rebounded to his typically elite form.)

Hextall says Flyers ‘think there’s more’ to Brayden Schenn’s game


Last season was officially a breakout year for Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn. He played all 82 games in Philly and netted 20 goals with 41 points – all career-highs.

Now with some changes happening in Philly with Scott Hartnell off to Columbus and R.J. Umberger re-joining the Flyers, GM Ron Hextall is expecting more from Schenn as Adam Kimelman of shared.

“He’s got a real gift at putting the puck in the net,” Hextall said. “He scored 20 goals, which at this stage of the game that’s a lot of goals. But we still think there’s more there and there’s more growth. I think the biggest thing is the consistency part.”

One place Schenn could find himself next season is on a line with captain Claude Giroux. With Hartnell out of town and Umberger being expected to help out on other lines, that leaves a spot open on Giroux’s left side. While Schenn is a natural center, his offensive game may be just the thing the Flyers need to give them a potent first line attack.

Hextall added that Schenn needs to be more consistent. If that happens and he winds up with Giroux, goals will come in bunches for all of them.

Flyers’ Mason broke his right pinky finger playing ball hockey


Maybe the Philadelphia Flyers should ask all of their players to avoid playing unsupervised sports in the summer.

Last year, captain Claude Giroux suffered a freak finger injury while playing golf. This time around, No. 1 goalie Steve Mason apparently broke his right pinky finger while playing ball hockey on Sunday. Flyers GM Ron Hextall acknowledged the injury and gave him a two-week window of recovery today:

“Steve Mason broke his right pinky finger playing hockey in Oakville, Ontario on Sunday, July 27. Mason will miss approximately two (2) weeks of on-ice training but will continue with his off-ice training.”

That’s a tough break for Mason, especially since he aims to prove that he’s worthy of the contract extension he signed with the team after a positive first (full) campaign with the Flyers in 2013-14.

Then again, it’s not really that significant of a setback being that it sounds like he should be good to go for training camp (unless the team’s being overly optimistic). It’s also true that the 26-year-old isn’t dealing with the worst summer hockey-related injury in recent memory, either.

Flyers players shouldn’t be shocked if the message after 2014-15 exit interviews is “take it easy this summer,” though …