Ranking the 5 Most Entertaining Players in Philadelphia Flyers History
The Philadelphia Flyers have had all walks pass through their locker room in the team's 46-year history.
Playmakers, snipers, brawlers, outspoken leaders, soft-spoken followers and pretty much everything in between.
And it's been this wide array of characters that has made Philadelphia one of the most galvanizing franchises in professional sports.
Here's a look at the cream of the crop and the five most entertaining players in Flyers history.
5. Jeremy Roenick
Jeremy Roenick may have only been with the Flyers for three seasons, but he left a lasting impression on both the city and its fans.
After signing as a free agent with the Orange and Black in the summer of 2001, Roenick promptly paced the Flyers in scoring in each of his first two seasons, guiding Philadelphia to a top-two finish in the Atlantic Division in both campaigns.
Then, in his third and final season in the City of Brotherly Love, Roenick was hit in the face by an errant slap shot in February, breaking his jaw in 19 places. The Boston native lay unconscious on the ice in a pool of blood for several minutes, and there was considerable speculation as to whether Roenick would ever be able to play again.
Well not only did JR return, but he did so ahead of schedule and ended up scoring one of the most memorable goals in Flyers history, propelling the squad past the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Always quite demonstrative, Roenick once threw a water bottle at an official when no penalty was assessed after he was hit in the face by an opponent's stick causing him to lose a tooth and a mouthful of blood.
Roenick went on to play for the Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks before retiring in 2009, and it was during his first campaign in San Jose when he returned to Philly on February 21, 2008 to a raucous reception.
4. Roman Cechmanek
As one begins typing Roman Cechmanek into a Google search field, the first two items that arise following simply his name are "Roman Cechmanek meltdown" and "Roman Cechmanek head save." Now that's entertaining.
Like Roenick, Cechmanek spent just three seasons in Philadelphia but left an altogether different sort of legacy.
Despite three strong regular seasons with the Orange and Black (goals-against average of 2.05 or lower and save percentage of .921 or higher in each season), the Czech Republic native was more of a hindrance than a help in the playoffs.
During the 2001 postseason, Cechmanek registered a 3.12 goals-against average coupled with a .891 save percentage and was guilty of allowing five goals before being lifted in a season-ending 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. Then, in 2003, he recorded a pair of second round shutouts against the Ottawa Senators but was atrocious in the series' other four games as the Flyers were bounced in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
And when Cechmanek was good in the playoffs (2002 Eastern Conference quarterfinals), Philadelphia was dropped in five games by Ottawa due to a lack of offense. In the second period of Game 4 in that series, Cechmanek attempted to pull himself from the game after the Sens went up 3-0.
Regardless of his play, though, Cechmanek was always entertaining. His frequent lapses in judgment (as evidenced above) coupled with his intentional head saves made him one of the most entertaining men to ever man the Philly crease.
3. Dave "The Hammer" Schultz
Anyone with the nickname "The Hammer" has to make this list, right?
Dave Schultz is one of the driving forces behind why the Flyers have been referred to as the Broad Street Bullies for nearly 40 years and is one of the greatest enforcers in NHL history.
To ensure Philadelphia could no longer be pushed around, Schultz was enlisted in the fall of 1972 and went on to record 1,386 minutes in penalties in just four seasons with the Orange and Black. To this day, he maintains the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a single season when he amassed a jaw-dropping 472 PIMs during the 1974-75 campaign.
Schultz never failed to produce fewer than 250 penalty minutes in a single season during his tenure with the Flyers and was a pivotal cog to the franchise's back-to-back Stanley Cup triumphs in 1974 and 1975.
"The Hammer" was afraid of no one but was feared by all and embraced his critical role on the squad. For his efforts, Schultz was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2009.
2. Scott Hartnell
Scott Hartnell is simply one of the best personalities in Philadelphia sports right now.
Forget his goal-scoring disappearing act in recent years and his below-average skating. Hartnell is just a truly likable and endearing athlete.
He clearly doesn't take himself too seriously, as evidenced by his charity, #HartnellDown Foundation, which raises money for charities that support hockey, children and communities across the U.S. and Canada based on the number of times Hartnell falls down every season. And it's that levity that's helped him become an instant fan favorite in Philadelphia.
His hair is the stuff of legends. On March 26, 2009, the Flyers held "Hartnell Wig Night," where fans attending the game were given wigs resembling his long, bushy locks.
He's never afraid to mix things up on the ice either, whether it's to spark his team or ignite the fans, and he even went so far once as to throw his glove at Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone in an attempt to stop a breakaway.
1. Ilya Bryzgalov
Where does one even begin here?
Ilya Bryzgalov was inked to a massive nine-year, $51 million contract in the summer of 2011 with the hope he would bring some stability to the perpetually maligned Philadelphia goal crease. Instead, "Mr. Universe" sent things spiraling out of control.
Boy, was it entertaining, though.
Just over four months into his colossal contract and on the heels of a 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, Bryzgalov openly admitted he had zero confidence in himself and went so far as to say he was "lost in the woods."
Just over a month later, HBO's 24/7 series, which documented the Flyers and New York Rangers leading up to their clash in the 2011 Winter Classic, aired, and Bryzgalov was an overnight sensation after his thoughts on the universe and tigers. Bryz made news again before the outdoor festivities when he admitted Philly had a better chance of winning the game as backup goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky would be starting over him.
All the while, his play on the ice was equally as erratic.
After his early-season struggles, Bryzgalov regained his confidence and put together a stretch for the ages when he recorded four shutouts in a five-game span in early March. But then came the playoffs, and the Bryzaster was back.
The enigmatic netminder scuffled throughout the 2012 postseason, posting a 5-6 overall mark while compiling a gargantuan 3.46 goals-against average coupled with a woeful .887 save percentage. He was frequently guilty of allowing soft goals and boasted the body language of a player completely at a loss.
Bryz lasted only two seasons in Philadelphia (he was bought out via a compliance buyout in June of 2013), and while they weren't the most productive campaigns in team history, they certainly were among the most entertaining.