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 have shaped the organization throughout the club's storied history
There were a trio of significant deals that took place on this day in franchise history -- one that brought in what would turn out to be the greatest defenseman in Flyers' history, one that brought a would-be power forward in bloom, and one that sent one of the marquis skaters to ever don the Orange-and-Black to a hated rival.
1982 -- Following a disappointing first round playoff exit, the Flyers sent young agitating forward Kenny "The Rat" Linseman, forward Greg Adams, and two draft picks to the Hartford Whalers in exchange for defenseman Mark Howe and a pick, changing the course of the franchise for the better part of the next decade.
There were definitely some risks involved for Philadelphia:
- At 23 years old, Linseman was coming off his best NHL season after setting career-highs with 24 goals, 68 assists, 92 points, and 275 penalty minutes. Had his play hit a peak, or was he on his way to becoming a star?
Adams was a top forward prospect in the organization, and the Flyers actually declined an earlier Hartford trade offer due to Adams' inclusion in the proposal.
Howe had suffered a horrific injury in late-December of 1982 when he crashed into the net and was impaled by one of the anchoring spikes. He was fortunate the spike had missed his spinal column, which could have resulted in permanent paralysis, but he lost over three pints of blood and dropped almost 20 pounds during the ordeal.
Howe's bloodlines were well-known, and he had done the name proud playing for the 1972 US silver-medal winning Olympic team at the age of 16 in Sapporo, Japan, and playing alongside father Gordie and brother Marty in the WHA for six dominating seasons before the league merged with the NHL in 1979.
Following the awful injury, Whalers management wondered if he'd ever return to an elite level of play, and incredibly even began to label Howe as a complainer. This was the driving force behind Howe's willingness to waive the no-trade clause he possessed in his contract. He submitted a list of four teams in which he would accept a trade -- Philadelphia, the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Boston Bruins.
There were some personal issues surrounding Linseman that likely hastened his exit from Philly, and GM Keith Allen convinced Ed Snider that acquiring Howe was worth losing Adams, and that he would immediately become the club's best defender.
On August 20, 1982 the trade became official, and it would become another notch in Keith "The Thief's" belt. Howe's all-around play would become crucial in the mid-80's turnaround that saw Philadelphia become one of the league's powerhouses, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1985 and 1987.
Unfortunately for the Flyers they met up with the Edmonton Oilers on both occasions, dropping the '85 series in five games and '87 in a hard-fought, seven-game classic, both times falling short with key players missing due to injuries suffered en route to the Final.
In an era dominated by the likes of legends Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, and Rod Langway, Howe often plied his trade in the shadows when awards time rolled around. But that part never bothered him, as the humble star always seemed far more concerned with the team's fortunes.
Howe would record 138 goals, 342 assists, and 480 points -- all franchise highs -- in 594 contests with Philly over the course of 10 regular seasons, but missed a great deal of time over the last four years due to nagging back issues.
On March 6, 2012, the team appropriately retired the number 2 that Howe wore during his decade as a Flyer.
1997 -- As has been the case more than a few times over the course of franchise history, Bob Clarke's attempt to land Tampa Bay Lightning restricted free agent center Chris Gratton via an offer sheet turned into something of a circus.
Bolts GM Phil Esposito tried to say the Flyers offer should be invalidated because the fax number was smudged, then attempted to swap Gratton to the Chicago Blackhawks before an arbitrator had to be brought in and ruled otherwise.
Philadelphia eventually sent popular Legion of Doom member Mikael Renberg and defenseman Karl Dykhuis to Tampa as part of a trade for Gratton on August 20, 1997, so as not to lose four first-round draft picks as compensation for signing another team's RFA.
Coming off a 30-goal campaign with the Lightning, Gratton appeared poised to become the game's next dominating power forward, so Clarke's enthusiasm to land him at the time was understandable.
Things, however, didn't turn out that way as Gratton's production fizzled in Philly. His play deteriorated under the crush of perhaps unrealistic expectations, and Gratton was eventually dealt back to Tampa in December of 1998 along with Mike Sillinger, in exchange for Renberg and Daymond Langkow.
2001 -- After posting 290 goals, 369 assists, and 659 points in 486 games over over eight sometimes turbulent regular seasons, the Flyers traded former-captain Eric Lindros to the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Kim Johnsson and forwards Pavel Brendl and Jan Hlavac.
It's a bit of irony that New York ended up as the destination of Lindros' departure, since it was a heated subject when the Quebec Nordiques traded his NHL rights to both the Flyers and Rangers in a battle that required an independent arbitrator to determine.