Rick MacLeish, one of the most prolific scorers in Flyers franchise history and a member of both of the club's Stanley Cup championship teams, has passed away at age 66.
MacLeish was responsible for what was at the time and still is the most important goal in team history: the only goal in Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals, which gave the Flyers their first championship.
MacLeish is sixth all-time in games played for the Flyers with 741 (tied with Bob Kelly), sixth all-time in goals scored with 328, fifth all-time in assists with 369 (tied with Eric Lindros) and fourth all-time in total points with 697. Only Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and Brian Propp have scored more points in a Philadelphia Flyers uniform than MacLeish.
Bill Meltzer has an incredible run down of MacLeish's career over at Hockeybuzz, and I highly recommend heading over there to read that today. Here are some words, via the Flyers, of some of those who played with MacLeish:
"With the passing of Rick MacLeish, the Flyers have lost one of their legends. A good father, grandfather, teammate and friend, Rick will be missed by all who were fortunate to come and know him over the years. His happy and friendly demeanor was front and center everywhere Rick went. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with Rick’s wife, Charlene, his daughters, Danielle and Brianna along with his grandchildren. May he rest in peace."
"Ricky was the most talented player the Flyers had during the 1970s. Life after hockey wasn’t fair to Ricky. He left us far too soon."
"Ricky was a special player for the Flyers. He always came up with scoring the big goals and he was instrumental helping us win two Stanley Cups. He will be greatly missed."
"Ricky, Ross (Lonsberry) and I played on a line together for 5-6 years. I’ll tell you what, he was probably the fastest player on the ice. As far as a wrist shot is concerned, there was no one better at getting that shot away and accurate. Ross and I would talk and say ‘let’s just give Ricky the puck and he’ll put it in.’ If you look at the amount of goals he scored, well, that’s why we kept giving him the puck. Ross and I had cement hands so we’d pass the puck to him. The Flyers could have a mediocre game but because of his skills as a player and the athlete that he was, he could carry us. He was that gifted. I always felt that during the years he played he never got the recognition that he properly deserved. He was that good. It saddens me that he was such a young man and is no longer with us. That really hurts."
"Rick was probably the most gifted, natural center-man that the Flyers have ever had. He was a tough kid who skated and worked hard. Although he played in the shadow of Clarkie he was every bit as good as Clarkie. Clarkie was more of a natural leader where Rick was just quiet and simply went out there and played his heart out. He was a great guy and it is very sad that we had to lose him at such an early age."
"I would say that Rick MacLeish was probably one of the most naturally skilled players that the Flyers have ever had in their history of 50 years. I’d put him up there with Giroux, Lindros and Forsberg in terms of natural skill. He was a great player and we’ll certainly miss him."