The Flyers organization and its fans are a bit sadder today, as we’ve lost another former player and current member of the organization. Ilkka Sinisalo was a core member of the Flyers’ lineup in the 1980s and has been scouting for the team since 2004. He passed away today in Finland at the age of 58. From the team:
It is with deep sadness that the Philadelphia Flyers announce the passing of Ilkka Sinisalo, former player and long-time scout for the organization. Sinisalo passed away peacefully with his family by his side in Finland this morning. He was 58.
"Ilkka was a true friend and loyal member of the Flyers," said Flyers President Paul Holmgren. "He gave a great deal of his time, effort and talents to the organization in several capacities as a player and long-time scout to bring this franchise success on and off the ice. Most important to all that knew him, he was a great person, a loving husband, father and grandfather. His presence and friendship will be deeply missed by all that knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife of over 35 years, Carina, his sons Niklas and Tomas, as well as Tomas' wife, Maija and their children Peter and Matilda."
"Ilkka was a very good player, a great teammate, but most importantly an outstanding person and a terrific friend to us all," said Flyers Executive Vice President & General Manager Ron Hextall. "We've all had the pleasure to work with him for many years and he will be missed."
Sinisalo spent parts of nine seasons with the Flyers as a player from 1981-82 to 1989-90. He recorded a total of 199 goals and 209 assists for 408 points in 526 regular season games. His 408 points rank sixth all-time among right wings in Flyers' history. He added another 21 goals and 31 points in 66 career Stanley Cup Playoff games as a Flyer, helping the team reach the Stanley Cup Final twice, in 1985 and 1987.
Sinisalo joined the Flyers as a 23-year-old rookie in 1981, signing as a free agent after playing four seasons for HIFK Helsinki in his native Finland. He scored his first career NHL goal on a penalty shot in an 8-2 win over Pittsburgh at the Spectrum, and went on to contribute 14 more that season to go along with 22 assists for 73 points in 66 games.
Sinisalo went on to spend nine seasons with the Flyers. His best years came in the mid-1980s when the Flyers were among the NHL's elite and went to the Stanley Cup Final twice. He was fourth on the team in scoring and third in goals in 1984-85, picking up 36 tallies to go along with 37 assists for 73 points. He was also third on the team with six goals in that year's Stanley Cup Final run.
Sinisalo improved by three goals a year later in his career-best season, posting 39 goals and 37 assists for 76 points. He was limited by injuries to 42 games in 1986-87, but still put up 31 points and recovered in time to post five goals in the 1987 run to the Final. A dependable player at both ends of the ice, Sinisalo was a plus-player in all nine seasons with the Flyers, including a career-high plus-32 in 1984-85. He had a plus-minus rating of plus-135 during his Flyers career.
In 1990, Sinisalo signed with Minnesota as a free agent, and was traded to Los Angeles in March of 1991. Upon the conclusion of his NHL career following the 1991-92 season, Sinisalo spent four more seasons playing back home in Finland, and then spent two seasons as a GM in Finland's top professional league. In 1998, Sinisalo took a job as a scout with the San Jose Sharks. He had been a European scout for the Flyers since 2004.
In 526 games with the Flyers, Sinisalo scored 199 goals and added 209 assists for 408 points, along with 180 PIM. He scored those 199 goals on just 1076 shots for a career shooting percentage of 18.5, which is the second-highest in Flyers history among players who have taken more than 250 shots. He is one of just 32 players to have appeared in 500 or more games for the team, and one of just 18 to record more than 400 points as a Flyer. Sinisalo had 11 shorthanded goals as a Flyer, which ties him for 10th most in team history with Simon Gagne and Don Saleski.