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Hockey

Philadelphia Flyers

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | 1998-99 Stats

Sports Illustrated Ranking: 9

By Kelley King

 
1998-99 Leaders
Stat Leader No.
Goals
Assists
Points
+/-
Shots
Ice time (F)
Ice time (D)
Faceoff Pct.
Hits
PP Pts.
SH Pts.
John LeClair
Eric Lindros
Eric Lindros
John LeClair
John LeClair
Eric Lindros
Eric Desjardins
Eric Lindros
Dan McGillis
Rod Brind'Amour
8 players
43
53
93
+36
246
22.9
25.8
60.0
220
32
1
Sports Illustrated Observers at the Flyers' training camp in Peterborough, Ont., were struck by the team's fitness. Right wing Mark Recchi was fully recovered from the concussion he sustained last season, defenseman Chris Therien had shed 10 pounds, and, despite back troubles that would hinder them during the preseason, John LeClair and Eric Lindros were skating with the team. From the goal nets to the front office, the message seemed clear: If the Flyers don't shape up this season, owner Ed Snider could be shipping many of them -- including Lindros and general manager Bob Clarke -- out. "We all feel that this has to be our year," says goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck.

The Flyers also entered last season with a lot to prove, and they quickly dispelled most concerns with an Eastern Conference best 28-10-11 start. Then Lindros's lung collapsed when he fell on his stick during an April 1 game, and the team buckled without him. Arguably more disheartened than disabled by the absence of their captain, the Flyers scored only 13 goals in their final seven regular-season games before being ousted from the playoffs in the first round by the Maple Leafs. The series ended in Game 6 when Toronto scored a power-play goal in the last minute after LeClair was called for elbowing, a penalty that left Snider so incensed that he was fined $50,000 by the league for his public outburst.

Despite an off-season marked by the lingering disappointment over that early playoff exit, the retirement of onetime goaltending star Ron Hextall and the death of rookie defenseman Dmitri Tertyshny in a boating accident, Philadelphia's attitude is positive. "This is the best team I've had since 1994," says Clarke, who re-signed standout defender Eric Desjardins, as well as free-agent forwards Recchi, Keith Jones, Mikael Renberg and Valeri Zelepukin. This older group will also be counted on to usher in a new generation of Flyers. The most promising young prospects include defenseman Mark Eaton, a 1998 free-agent signee from Notre Dame, and 19-year-old center Simon Gagne, a first-round pick in '98 with superior skills. Last season the 6-foot, 165-pound Gagne scored 120 points in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Despite the new talent that waits in the wings, for this year, at least, the Flyers hope that experience takes them over the top.

Issue date: October 4, 1999

ALSO:
SI's Scouting Report Main Page
SI's Pierre McGuire Insider Rankings


BRIGHT SPOTS   GRAY AREAS
  • Rod Brind'Amour is working on the league's longest iron man streak at 484 games. He has played in 778 of a possible 782 career games.
  • After a couple years of constant tinkering, the Flyers stayed quiet this summer and hope the stability will kick in.
  • Eric Desjardins is coming off a career-best 15-goals, 51-point season in which he collected Norris Trophy votes.
  •  
  • John Vanbiesbrouck made Bobby Clarke look good last year, but if he falters this year, 22-year-old Brian Boucher may get a good look.
  • They can downplay the injuries to Eric Lindros and John LeClair as minor, but back injuries are funny things. And not Ha-Ha funny.
  • RW Keith Jones' surgically-repaired knee is also acting up, meaning the whole No. 1 line is hurting.
  • People, Places and Things
    GM: Bob Clarke
    Coach: Roger Nielson; 2nd full season (47-35-21); 15th overall (414-355-147)
    Assistants: Wayne Cashman; Craig Ramsey
    Captain: Eric Lindros
    Last year: 37-26-19 (7th overall)
    Playoffs: Lost to Toronto 4-2 in first round
    PP: 10th (16.8%)
    PK: 16th (84.1%)

    Get The Highlighter
    Sat., Oct. 2: Home opener against Ottawa.
    Wed., Oct. 20 and Fri., Oct. 22: Home-and-home series with the Rangers (Wednesday in Philly, Friday in New York) are the last meetings until February.

    Notable Number
    1.83: Goals-per-game the Flyers scored in their six-game playoff loss to Toronto; Philadelphia had averaged 2.81 goals-per-game in the regular season

    Quoteworthy
    "We don't need any crap this year. We've got a real good team. There's a lot at stake. I've committed for one more year here. I enjoy playing with my peers, playing for the coaching staff." -- Eric Lindros



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