The Philadelphia sports scene is already overcrowded. But here's one more thing.
The Philadelphia sports scene is already overcrowded. But here's one more thing.
Published December 2 & 17, 2019 / January 11, February 15, and March 1 & 14, 2020
And so it’s only appropriate to move on to the Orange and Black, taking a dive into the best Flyers to ever wear each jersey (or “sweater” if you’re a hockey purist) number. We'll be updating this list annually, or as needed.
Since the Flyers tend to do everything backwards, we’re going to do things a little differently by beginning our list at #99 and working down instead of going in ascending order.
With the Flyers, always expect the unexpected. Except for the decades of predictably bad goaltending.
#99 - Nobody. And since it’s retired league-wide for Wayne Gretzky, no Flyer will ever wear it.
#98 - N/A once again.
#97 - A living, breathing hockey player for the first time, as Jeremy Roenick brought a level of excitement to the Flyers for three seasons earlier this century. His numbers were only so-so, but he was a perfect fit in this town. It’s just a shame that he wasn’t a Flyer during his superstar years in the 90’s.
#96 to #94 - Another three spots with no entries to speak of yet.
#93 - It took until 2006 when Petr Nedved became the first Flyer to ever wear this number. Nikolai Zherdev followed up a few years later. But since 2011, it’s belonged to Jakub Voracek, who figures to hold down this spot for perpetuity. And although he has become a lightning rod for criticism during his tenure with the team, his longevity has helped him climb up the team’s all-time scoring leaderboard.
#92 - Worn only by Rick Tocchet during his career-ending, 74-game second stint with the Flyers, I’ll bet that someone else chooses to roll the dice and wear this number at some point to stake their claim. But they’d better watch out for Tocchet.
#91 - Nobody.
#90 - Come on, where are all the Russians who love these types of numbers? The Flyers have never had a #90 either.
#89 - How uninspiring. Mike Comrie had 9 points in 21 games wearing this number. But we’ll reward the “tenure” of Sam Gagner instead, who put up 16 points in 53 games wearing #89 for the Flyers. That’s all she wrote at this number for now.
#88 - I’m not even going to make any jokes here, as Hall of Famer Eric Lindros is the first, last and only Flyer to ever don #88. We all know Eric’s story, and so I won’t rehash it. But I just want to go on record as having a great appreciation for the way he put the Flyers back on the map. Even with all of the turmoil surrounding Lindros’ career, it was special to watch him take the ice for the Flyers. As long as he was upright. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. But, thank you Eric!
#87 - Donald Brashear gooned his way into our hearts for four seasons with the Flyers. And no Flyer will probably ever wear this number again, because Brashear would beat them to a bloody pulp for intruding.
#86-#83 - Another bunch of jerseys that no Flyer has dared venture into yet.
#82 - One of the Flyers’ numerous failed “bring them over from the KHL for a year” experiments, defenseman Evgeny Medveded scored 12 points in 45 games for the Flyers in his lone season of 2015-16. Hopefully, Connor Bunnaman or literally anyone else can dethrone him some time.
#81 - When Carsen Twarynski first wore this number this year, he became the initial Flyer to do so. Woo.
#80 - And we close this chapter of our list with yet another exciting N/A.
#79 - When Carter Hart made his long-awaited NHL debut in 2019, he became the first Flyer to ever put on #79. Let’s all hope and pray that he will be the only one. It’s probably not a stretch to say that the fate of the organization rests on his shoulders, but don’t tell the kid that. We wouldn’t want him to hear about the Flyers’ long history of goaltending gone wrong and get scared off. Spoiler alert: He already knows about it. But maybe he’s the kind of player who was born to rise to the occasion. Frankly, he’d better be.
#78 - One of the few instances of the Flyers bringing an international player to the NHL for the first time and actually seeing him become a useful player, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare had a nice three-year stint as a 4th line center for the Flyers before they lost him to Vegas in the 2017 NHL expansion draft.
#77 - Remember Chris Gratton? The Flyers would prefer to forget. Interestingly, a pair of Hall of Famers have worn this number for the Flyers. One was Adam Oates, who was utterly forgettable in a Flyers uniform. The other is the winner at this number: Paul Coffey. Despite being near the end of the road, the veteran defenseman still put up 55 points in 94 games as a Flyer over parts of two seasons.
#76 - Did you know that Chris VandeVelde played 250 games with the Flyers, managing just 17 goals along the way? Did you know that he played for Dave Hakstol in college, so that’s why he stuck around the Flyers for so long? At any rate, he’s the only #76 we have to choose from. A bummer for a Philly team.
#75 - Hal “Healthy Scratch” Gill managed to get into just six games with the Flyers in 2013-14 despite being on the team for the whole year. He’s the only Flyer to wear #75 so far, in case that didn’t tip you off.
#74 - Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, two games of Mike Vecchione are the only thing to choose from here. My God.
#73 - Thankfully, nobody.
#72 - Long live Rob Zepp, who managed to go 5-2 in ten appearances in net for the Flyers despite an .888 save percentage. Hopefully, David Kase will give him a run for his money at some point.
#71 - N/A
#70 - Danick Martel at four games is the only Flyer so far to wear #70. Man, this is bad.
#69 - Would somebody really wear this?
#68 - Finally, something half-decent. It was only one season and he was 39 years old at the time, but Jaromir Jagr still had “it” with the Flyers. It was certainly bizarre to see a long-time nemesis in the Orange and Black, but big credit to Jagr for getting the fanbase behind him during his short time in Philadelphia.
#67 - N/A
#66 - A sad story here, as the only Flyer to ever wear #66 was Yanick Dupre, a young man who suited up for 35 games for the Flyers in the 1990’s. Dupre succumbed to cancer in 1997 at the age of 24. It’s not likely that any Flyer will ever wear the number again, which is appropriate.
#65 - It comes down to Kyle Greentree and Nate Guenin here. Given that Guenin holds a 12-2 edge in games played for the Flyers, he is the pick.
#64 - Nobody.
#63 - Nobody yet again.
#62 - With his first taste of NHL action in 2018, youngster Nikolas Aube-Kubel became the first Flyer to don #62. Good luck to him in carving out a niche with the club.
#61 - Mike York was the first Flyer to wear #61, doing so for 34 games during the club’s horrendous 2006-07 season. Then it was Philippe Myers’ first number as a rookie. But in 2019, Myers ceded it to veteran defenseman Justin Braun, who will be the selection here.
#60 - Nate Raduns played one game with the Flyers. Woof.
#59 - Hey, Mark Friedman, your NHL career just started, but guess what. You’re the best Flyer to ever wear #59! Ok, forget what I said about the “competition” thing.
#58 - Taylor Leier, we hardly knew ye. And it’s probably for the best, because you only scored two goals in 55 games. But it’s enough to get you here.
#57 - Maybe because of an anti-Heinz bias (Pittsburgh-based company), the Flyers have never had a #57. This is the lowest jersey number that a Flyer has yet to wear.
#56 - Now it gets weird. We can go with goaltender Mike McKenna and his single game with the team that made him one of the NHL-record eight goalies that the Flyers used during the 2018-19 season. Or we could choose Tyrell Goulbourne, who was pointless in 11 games with the team. But, even though it feels like kind of a cheat, the answer here has to be...Claude Giroux. What? That’s right, Cap’n Claude wore this number during his first two games with the team in 2008. He wouldn’t claim #28 from Lasse Kukkonen until the following season. And even though he didn’t do anything of substance wearing this number...come on. He’s the pick.
#55 - Wow, what a bust of a number. From Chris Gratton to Pavel Brendl to Samuel Morin, what in God’s name happened here? We’ll go with Nick Schultz as the pick since he at least showed a pulse and wasn’t a total liability during his three seasons on the club.
#54 - Three players have worn this for the Flyers. Two of them are guys you don’t remember existing, and the third is Oskar Lindblom, who wore it during his first taste of NHL action in 2017-18. Brandon Manning was wearing #23 at the time, FYI. #OskarStrong
#53 - As much as all of us, myself included, are beating up on Shayne Gostisbehere right now, I think we can all admit that he’ll probably stick in this spot for a very long time.
#52 - Nick Cousins wore this number at the start of his career, and he narrowly edges out 8 games of Triston Grant and a partial year of a young Todd Fedoruk.
#51 - Fun fact: This is one of FIVE different numbers that Patrick Sharp wore for the Flyers in just 66 games for them before they traded him for nothing and watched him go on to be a very good player and three-time Cup winner. For the pick, though, we’ll give it to Valtteri Filppula and his 41 points in 101 games with the Flyers.
#50 - Ruslan Fedotenko wore this as a rookie before switching to his more familiar #26. I have no idea how many games he wore it for, and it would take a lot of work to find out. Let’s just give it to him and hope that German Rubtsov turns into something, though he probably wouldn’t keep this number if he sticks as a regular NHLer.
#49 - Joel Farabee has it now, and maybe he turns into something special. But we need to go with Brian Savage. Just kidding. It’s Michael Leighton. For better or worse, he carved out a unique place in Flyers history.
#48 - Much was expected out of Danny Briere when he signed with the Flyers as a much-ballyooed free agent in 2007. He largely delivered, including a tremendous playoff performance in 2010. The end wasn’t pretty, which we all saw coming, but he was just what the Flyers needed at the time.
#47 - Well, this certainly hurts. But based on volume alone, Andrew MacDonald is your winner. And that’s the only time that “Andrew MacDonald is your winner” has ever been written.
#46 - From Josh Gratton (no relation to Chris) to Jussi Timonen (actual relation to Kimmo, his brother), there is a strange collection of players at #46. For me, I’m going to go back a number of years and select Al Conroy. And he basically only wins because I remember seeing a clip of him punching Mario Lemieux in the face in the Flyers’ 1992 team video.
#45 - These digits present us with a number of options. I didn’t say good options, just options. Unquestionably, the best overall player here was Vaclav Prospal, and he wore this number at the start of his career. But since we’re just going with what they accomplished while sporting #45 for the Flyers, let’s choose Arron Asham. He gave the Flyers two gritty years of fourth-line production a decade ago. And yes, that’s how you spell his first name.
#44 - This one belongs to Kimmo Timonen in a landslide, as he wore the number for the longest of any Flyer and was easily the best player. A warrior of a player.
#43 - Even though Andy Delmore had a nice run, Martin Biron’s competent play in net for three seasons with the Flyers makes him the choice here. Such pretty blue eyes, too.
#42 - We head back to the crease, as Robert Esche takes this one on the strength of actually having a pulse, unlike the group of nobodys that have worn #42 for the Flyers otherwise.
#41 - He’s not exactly a Flyers legend, but defenseman Andrej Meszaros played in parts of four effective seasons with the Flyers from 2010-14. The only other point of order at this number is that future Flyers head coach John Stevens wore this jersey for nine games with the Flyers back in the 1980’s.
#40 - I am thoroughly disgusted to report that Vincent Lecavalier is the winner at this number. His 58 points in 133 games with the team were awful, but there is nobody else we can really give it to. Sorry, Jordan Weal.
#39 - Absolutely nothing to pick from here, with pint-sized fourth-liner Marty Murray being the only guy that even moderately stands out.
#38 - One of the most barren uniform numbers in Flyers history, #38 has only been worn by six players, all of whom COMBINED have only played in about 100 games with the team. Ryan Hartman’s 19-game stint with the Flyers is enough to win him the spot here.
#37 - Brian Elliott has done a decent enough job with the number for three years. But #37 will always belong to Eric Desjardins. He was as reliable as they come on the blueline, and he finished his career second in scoring by a Flyers’ defenseman and third in games played. All that, and he’s probably still underappreciated.
#36 - If you want a sizeable list of “barely on the roster guys”, then #36 is your number. We’ve got Zac Rinaldo, Jesse Boulerice, and others. Darroll Powe ends up being the choice here, as he slips past Bobby Clarke. Yes, Bobby Clarke, who had to wear this number for two games.
#35 - This sweater number is largely populated by goalies, from Wayne Stephenson to Ken Wregget to Sergei Bobrovsky. Based on overall numbers with the Flyers, Steve Mason is our winner. In parts of five years with the Flyers, he had several notable performances. Unfortunately, he also had this.
#34 - A whopping 25 players have sported this number in Philadelphia, which right away tells you that none of them were any good and didn’t stick around. John Vanbiesbrouck is the selection for his two years with the Flyers, although you shouldn’t discount what Freddy Meyer has meant to the franchise.
#33 - What a bonkers career for Brian Boucher. Between 1999 and 2013, he wore this number in three separate stints with the Flyers, which were wrapped around time spent with six other organizations, during which time he also set the NHL record for longest shutout streak. It’s a shame he wasn’t, you know, all that good.
#32 - Roman Cechmanek was sensational in goal for three seasons with the Flyers, so of course everybody hated him. Mark Streit merits a mention here as well for his four seasons with the team.
#31 - We’ll never know what could have been with Pelle Lindbergh, who died in a car accident in 1985 at the age of 26. One moment the Flyers had one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, the next they were picking up the pieces from a terrible loss. Lindbergh’s #31 is not officially retired by the Flyers, but no player has worn it since.
#30 - The first Flyer to wear this number was still the best, and that’d be Bernie Parent in his first go-round with the club. Notably worn by netminders such as Ilya Bryzgalov and Michal Neuvirth since then, I think we can still feel pretty confident in this pick.
#29 - This has been a straight-up number for goons in Flyers history, with early 80’s tough guy Glen Cochrane achieving the most “success”, whatever that might mean. Since then, we’ve seen it worn by the likes of Todd Fedoruk, Gino Odjick, and Roman Vopat, among others.
#28 - Kjell Samuelsson put up a nice 545-game stretch wearing this number. But I believe we can come to total agreement that this number belongs to Claude Giroux. Incidentally, Giroux’s handful of games wearing #56 also gave him the top spot at that number, so he becomes our first multiple winner.
#27 - This is a legitimately tough call, but I’m going to have to go with what I know and make Ron Hextall the selection. He does have the most goaltender wins in Flyers history after all. Many apologies to Reggie Leach here. What a player.
#26 - Brian Propp was a truly great Flyer who doesn’t get much credit. Fun fact: I saw him score his 1,000th career point. It came against the Flyers when he was playing for the Whalers. Honorable mention here to Michal Handzus, but this wasn’t close.
#25 - I think this can go one of two ways. You could choose 1980’s heartthrob Peter Zezel. But I’m going to have to go with Keith Primeau thanks to that 5th overtime goal in 2000 and his herculean 2004 playoff run that almost carried the Flyers to the Cup Final. It would have been interesting to see what he could have done if concussions hadn’t ended his career a few seasons too early.
#24 - While the Flyers have had some decent players like Sami Kapanen wear this number, the longevity of Derrick Smith makes him the only real choice. He played 494 games as a Flyer and was part of two Cup Final teams in the 1980’s.
#23 - Another Flyer from those 80’s teams, Ilkka Sinisalo, is our selection here. Ilkka amassed 409 points in 526 games as a Flyer. Pretty impressive totals, though that era had just a tad more scoring than present day.
#22 - Rick Tocchet already captured the crown at #92, and he wins here again with his original number. Props to Mike Knuble for at least getting on the radar here. Luke Schenn just missed out. Bummer.
#21 - It may have only been parts of two seasons, but Peter Forsberg takes this number. James van Riemdsyk (first edition)? Not quite. Scott Laughton? Keep going. Bill Flett? Played a million years ago, I don’t know. Even in a limited sample, everyone takes a back seat to Forsberg. And you have to just shake your head and wonder what could have been.
#20 - Chris Pronger will probably slash me for not choosing him, but his tenure in town was just too short. This spot will deservedly go to Dave Poulin, who captained the team during the 1980’s and was just a solid Flyer.
#19 - There are a couple strong entries here, such as Scott Mellanby, Mikael Renberg, and Scott Hartnell. And I’m still holding out hope for Nolan Patrick someday. But until then, Rick MacLeish is the gold standard at #19 for the Flyers.
#18 - Ross Lonsberry put up a fight for this number, but Mike Richards, regardless of how you view his legacy in Philadelphia, did enough in his time as a Flyer to merit a selection.
#17 - Jeff Carter and Wayne Simmonds gave it a go, but Rod Brind’Amour is still the choice at #17. “Rod the Bod” was the textbook definition of what a Flyer should be.
#16 - Even though Claude Laforge played 65 games with the Flyers, I think it’s pretty safe to award this number to a guy named Bobby Clarke. Leading a franchise in games played, assists, and points will do that. #16 is in the rafters for a reason. Just don’t talk about his work as a GM, I guess.
(Photo by S Levy/Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)
#15 - And now we arrive at the most-worn jersey number in Flyers history, as 37 players all told have put it on. And there’s a good reason for that, as it’s been a parade of nobodies that includes Peter White, Andreas Nodl and...ugh...Jori Lehtera. I’m going to give this one to Joffrey Lupul, who only played two years in Philly but at least scored an epic Game 7 overtime winner.
#14 - For a long time, this would have been Joe Watson. A good player, and he’s justifiably in the team’s Hall of Fame. But I think it’s safe to say that Sean Couturier has blown by him, with room for much, much more.
#13 - While #15 has been frequently worn, unlucky #13 has not. It’s only been sported by seven Flyers ever, which is the lowest total of any non-retired number under #30. As such, Kevin Hayes is already the top pick here.
#12 - This is a pretty decent competition, although it definitely doesn’t include current wearer Michael Raffl. Gary Dornhoefer staked the first claim to it, and more recently Simon Gagne had an excellent run for the team, ranking ninth all-time in goals by a Flyer. But in between those two gentlemen, Tim Kerr was dominant. Injuries got in the way of what would have been a Hall of Fame career, but his totals (363 G, 287 A, 650 pts. In 601 games as a Flyer) are enough to make #12 all his.
#11 - A host of respectable Flyers such as Don Saleski have worn #11, but Travis Konecny has already passed them all and has a chance to be a very good player for a long time for the Orange and Black.
#10 - This is John LeClair, and it’s not close. His 333 goals as a Flyer are fifth in club history, and the team hasn’t had a 50-goal scorer since he pumped out three of them in a row in the 90’s.
#9 - Pelle Eklund and Bob “The Hound” Kelly are worth mentioning, but Ivan Provorov is the present and the future here. We’ll make the projection that he’ll continue to be great while wearing it.
#8 - Mark Recchi seems underappreciated around these parts, even though he’s a Hall of Fame player. Maybe that has to do with the fact that he basically won Cups everywhere else he played (including Pittsburgh), but not here. It’s also largely forgotten that he holds the club record for points in a season with 123 of them in 1992-93.
#7 - Bill Barber is the Flyers’ all-time leading goal scorer (420) and a Hockey Hall of Famer. Still, the team allowed three other guys to wear #7 in the years after his retirement. Eventually, of course, the Flyers sent it to the rafters.
#6 - Andre “Moose” Dupont had a claim for this number, and maybe Travis Sanheim can turn into a high-level player. But we’ll be generous and let Chris Therien have it. He’s played the most games by a defenseman in Flyers history, after all. And he really shut down Jagr when he faced him. Let’s not discuss the many shortcomings, though.
#5 - This is the most painful selection on the list. I looked high and low, but couldn’t find anyone else suitable, so it has to go to Braydon Coburn. All I can say is “Go Philippe Myers!”
#4 - As we all know, the Flyers have retired this number for the late Barry Ashbee, the first man so honored in franchise history.
#3 - With some nods to the likes of Tom Bladon, Gord Murphy, Garry Galley, and Dan McGillis, Behn Wilson is the most logical selection at #3 for the Flyers, a high-scoring defenseman and quite the character.
#2 - The Flyers finally came to their senses and retired this number for Mark Howe a few years ago after letting ten other players wear it since his time in Philadelphia. Some, like Derian Hatcher, did a decent job with it. But Gordie’s son remains the best D-man in Flyers history.
#1 - I’m not going to say that the whole reason for doing this list in descending numerical order was that so it could end with Bernie Parent, but here we are. As we covered previously, Bernie also owns the distinction of being the best #30 in Flyers history, but #1 is of course where we’ll always remember him. Most people probably don’t realize that he only wore it for six seasons, but what a stretch it was. Wins, awards, Cups, Bernie did it all. His greatness is unquestioned. No one else, and I mean no one, will ever be #1.
That concludes our long and winding countdown of the best Philadelphia Flyers players by jersey number. Again, check out what else we’ve done with the Phillies and the Eagles. And no, I don’t anticipate doing the 76ers.