Today in Philadelphia Flyers history: Holmgren hat trick Cup Final first, Primeau's Conn Smythe bid grows

Bruce Bennett

Parent re-acquired, Holmgren's hat trick the first ever by a U.S.-born player in a Stanley Cup Final game, Clarke hangs 'em up to become GM, and Primeau's excellent postseason play continues against the Bolts

A sometimes-frequent look back at how the Philadelphia Flyers have fared on this day, recalling some of the more memorable moments, achievements, and events that shaped the organization throughout the club's storied history. Especially now that the current postseason run is a thing of the past

The Flyers are a perfect 4-0 in four all-time playoff contests played on May 15, all of which were on home ice and outscoring the opposition by a combined total of 19-8.

There were also a couple of other pretty significant moves made on this day that helped shape the course of the franchise; a trade completed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1973, bringing back a vital ingredient to what would become the Flyers Stanley Cup recipe the very next spring; and perhaps the greatest player to ever don the Orange-and-Black called it a career, making the transition from on-ice captain to the club's general manager position in 1984.

1975: Bill Barber scored twice and Bobby Clarke added a goal and assisted on two others in a four-goal third period as the defending champion Flyers grabbed the all-important Game 1 of the 1975 Stanley Cup Final with a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at the Spectrum.

The contest was scoreless through two periods, thanks in large part to Bernie Parent, who held the home team in the game as Buffalo carried play for 40 minutes. The fleet, offensively-gifted Sabres outshot the Flyers 8-2 in the first and 22-10 by the second intermission before Philly dominated the final stanza.

Ross Lonsberry also scored for the Flyers, potting the second goal of the final period that would eventually end up as the game-winning goal.

1980: Paul Holmgren became the first US-born player to ever record a hat trick in a Stanley Cup Final game as the Flyers bombed the New York Islanders 8-3 at the Spectrum, evening the championship set at a game apiece.

Things didn't look so good from a Philadelphia standpoint early on, as Butch Goring opened the scoring by beating Pete Peeters 3:28 after the opening faceoff to give the Isles -- who had taken Game 1 in overtime -- an early 1-0 lead.

New York's power play led to the Flyers demise in Game 1, but it was their own man advantage unit that got Philadelphia back in this one. Holmgren's power play marker with Stefan Persson in the penalty box less than four minutes after Goring's tally knotted the score at 1-1, and the floodgates seemed to open up.

Bob Kelly beat Billy Smith just over a minute later, and Bobby Clarke made it a 3-1 advantage at the first intermission.

Bill Barber and Bryan Trottier traded early goals in the middle frame before the Flyers' power play went to work again. Holmgren cashed in with N.Y. defender Ken Morrow in the box less than a minute after Trottier's marker, and rookie Brian Propp made it 6-2 late in the period to chase Smith from the Islanders cage.

Philadelphia didn't treat Glenn Resch much better, as Tom Gorence scored within the first two minutes and Holmgren completed the hat trick shortly thereafter to make it 8-2.

2004: Keith Primeau's shorthanded tally late in the second period served as the game-winning goal in a 3-2 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wachovia Center, evening up their Eastern Conference Final series at two games apiece.

Fredrik Modin gave the Bolts a 1-0 lead with Simon Gagne off for high-sticking, but John LeClair and Mark Recchi each put the puck past Nikolai Khabibulin within a span of 1:25 late in the opening twenty minutes to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead.

Primeau made it 3-1 by the second intermission. With Vladimir Malakhov in the sin bin for crosschecking, the Flyers captain broke into the Lightning zone on a two-on-one with Simon Gagne. Primeau waited until defenseman Dan Boyle left his skates to block any possible attempt at a pass across to Gagne, then snapped a wrist shot past Khabibulin and under the crossbar to give the home team a two-goal lead.

Robert Esche was outstanding in the Flyers net, and he had to be in a third period that saw Tampa outshoot Philly, 14-7. Esche was able to turn all of them aside until Vincent Lecavalier's power play marker with 33 seconds remaining. The goaltender finished the night with 28 saves.

With a goal and an assist, Primeau continued to be one of the most dominant performers in the 2004 postseason. He increased his totals that spring to seven goals and 11 points in 15 playoff contests to that point, which was a significantly higher rate than the nine goals and 32 assists he had accumulated during his previous 110 playoff contests prior to 2004.

This series would prove to be Primeau's signature performance during his time in Philadelphia.

2008: Joffrey Lupul scored a pair of goals and Martin Biron stopped 36 of 38 shots as the Flyers avoided elimination with a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wachovia Center, spoiling their cross-state rivals hopes for a sweep and cutting Philly's Eastern Conference Final series deficit to 3-1.

Lupul opened the scoring as the first period neared the midpoint, before Danny Briere and Jeff Carter added power play goals later to make a 3-0 lead that would hold up until the third period.

Jordan Staal ruined Biron's bid for a shutout early in the final stanza, then notched his second with just under five minutes remaining to pull the Pens to within a goal and give Flyers fans some extreme anxiety. Lupul erased any doubts and iced the outcome into the empty net with Marc-Andre Fleury pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute of play.

May 15 Flyers trade

On this day in 1973, Philadelphia re-acquired the rights to goaltender Bernie Parent from Toronto, just over two years after shipping him to the Maple Leafs in a three-team exchange that saw the Flyers add Leafs netminder Bruce Gamble and Boston Bruins forward Rick MacLeish.

While in Toronto Parent was tendered more than twice the salary the Maple Leafs were offering to sign with the Philadelphia Blazers of the WHA, so he left for the rival league.

The Blazers initial season was nothing short of a disaster, and it would become the only year they were in operation. The team was sold and moved from Philadelphia, and Parent was looking for a new home.

Toronto still held the goaltender's NHL rights, but couldn't come to an agreement with Parent on contract terms. The Leafs decided to deal his rights, and the Flyers -- who had assembled an excellent cast but felt they still needed an elite goalie to take the next step -- traded goalkeeper Doug Favell and a first-round draft pick to bring Parent back to Philadelphia.

The move healed old wounds left by the first trade, and Parent maximized the knowledge he had picked up in Toronto from the legendary Jacques Plante.

Parent was the key ingredient to the Flyers recipe for success, as they went on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups the next two seasons.

He finished his career in Philly -- which was cut short by an eye injury suffered in a game in 1978 -- with 486 regular season games and 232 wins (both second only to Ron Hextall), and a franchise-best 50 shutouts, and was elected to the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 1984.

May 15 Flyers retirement / promotion to GM

On this day in 1984, the very heart-and-soul of the Flyers on-ice product decided to hang up his skates for good and take over the reigns of general manager of the club. Bobby Clarke (the player) became Bob Clarke (the GM), taking over control of reshaping the team's chemistry as Bob McCammon resigned following another disappointing playoff showing.

Clarke finished his playing career as Philly's leader in many offensive categories, and is still tops in regular season games (1,144 all in Philadelphia), assists (852), points (1,210), shorthanded goals (32), while still placing fourth in goals (358) and power play goals (99) as of today.

But Clarke was so much more than just an offensive contributor, as his ferocious competitiveness and desire to win have rarely been matched by another athlete in any sport.

When McCammon resigned, in addition to the GM spot he also held the head coaching position. Clarke immediately hired Mike Keenan, traded aging superstar Darryl Sittler to the Detroit Red Wings for a young center named Murray Craven, and kick-started the franchise's rapid ascendency back to the status of the elite organizations.

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