Throughout the season, we’ll be taking a walk down memory lane whenever the Flyers open their season series against an opponent. We’ll be remembering a game, goal, or highlight Philly created while playing against that particular team. It won’t always be the most notable memory the Orange and Black have against that team, but it’ll be something that Flyers’ fans will want to remember.
The NHL is a different league than what it was in the early 2000’s. Fighting and enforcers were much more prevalent, as the league was a much more physical, tougher game. It’s not often a fight even happens in a game today, let alone multiple fights in the same game and between the same two players. It wasn’t uncommon nearly twenty years ago, which Todd Fedoruk and Peter Worrell proved in a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers on October 13, 2001.
In nine NHL seasons, Fedoruk accrued 97 points and 1,050 penalty minutes in 545 games. Drafted 164th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Flyers, ‘Fridge’ spent time with Philadelphia, Anaheim, the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Phoenix Coyotes, and ended his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning when he was dealt for Radim Vrbata. The highlight of his early career was perhaps his scrap with Matthew Barnaby, where he essentially knocked out Pittsburgh’s pest and didn’t break a sweat. Unfortunately for Fedoruk, fighting caused several notable injuries over his career. After suffering a broken cheekbone in a scrap with Derek Boogaard, Fedoruk endured maybe his scariest incident in a fight with Colton Orr.
Like other notable enforcers over the years, Fedoruk struggled with substance abuse issues during his playing time.
Worrell totaled 46 points and 1,554 penalty minutes in 391 games over seven seasons. After his time in the QMJHL, where he is still 13th all-time in PIMs, the Florida Panthers took him 166th in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. Worrell spent six seasons with the Cats and finished his career with the Colorado Avalanche during the 2003-04 campaign. Along with opponents on the ice, Worrell had to fight racism throughout his NHL career. Unfortunately, one of the most noted examples of racism he faced in hockey came thanks to a former Flyers’ head coach. Despite situations like that, Worrell played several years of junior and professional hockey, and is now an assistant coach for the Fayetteville Marksmen in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The Flyers and Panthers had a few heated games back in the early 2000’s. Worrell’s first taste of it came on December 27, 2000 when he dropped the gloves with both Keith Primeau and Luke Richardson. He then fought Fedoruk in his rookie season when the teams met again on January 13, 2001.
The following season, the Orange and Black opened their campaign with a 5-2 decision at home against the Florida Panthers on October 4th. Aside from the trio of Justin Williams, Jeremy Roenick, and Eric Weinrich recording three-point games and Roman Cechmanek stopping 32 of the Cats’ 34 shots on net, a pair of fights occurred in the opening frame. The first came with a little less than four minutes left in the first period when Primeau dropped the gloves with tough guy Jason Wiemer after he set a pick on Wiemer earlier in the play.
A little over three minutes after Primeau’s fight, Richardson decided to mix it up with Worrell. It ah...didn’t really go too well for Richardson.
The teams would meet again nine days later at National Car Rental Center (now BB&T Center) and there were evidently some disputes to settle. With the Flyers up 4-1 at the end of two periods, Fedoruk, who scored Philly’s fourth goal in the tilt, decided to throw hands with Worrell just 34 seconds into the final stanza. Although Fedoruk handled his own in the duo’s first fight nine months earlier, Worrell would get the better of him in their second bout.
The two were the first to commit penalties in a third period that saw 196 PIMs accrued in a span of 16:23. Less than four minutes later, Paul Laus, who apparently was a co-captain of a real NHL team in 2001-02 decided to show some leadership by dropping the gloves with *squints at box score*...Ruslan Fedotenko...between whistles.
Four minutes later, things started to get out of control. After Bill Lindsay checked Simon Gagne in the corner, Richardson took exception and punched Lindsay in the back of the head. Kevyn Adams came over and attempted to stand up for Lindsay, but Lindsay wanted to go after Richardson himself. Seeing Adams try to fight Richardson, Mark Recchi came over and let Adams know that probably wasn’t the best decision.
Over five minutes later, Fedoruk and Worrell dropped the gloves for a second time in the period. It was over pretty quickly, but both players got a shot in and Worrell tried to give Fedoruk a few more shots after the refs intervened. Naturally the two received fighting majors, but with just 6:22 left in regulation, the pair also received 10-minute misconducts to end their evenings.
Fedoruk and Worrell’s second fight of the evening, and third overall, wouldn’t be the final act of violence on this particular night. Wiemer, who we mentioned earlier for fighting Primeau after the former Flyers’ captain had a somewhat dirty pick on him, committed a far worse crime by just pummeling an unwilling combatant in Weinrich. While the refs worked on getting Wiemer off of Weinrich, Roenick decided to trade punches with Olli Jokinen.
When it was all said and done, the Flyers and Panthers combined for 214 PIMs in the 5-2 decision for Philadelphia, the 16th-most penalty minutes for a single Flyers’ game in franchise history. The 86 penalty minutes provided by the Orange and Black is tied for the 33rd-most in a single game in franchise history, while Florida’s 128 PIMs is the ninth-most penalty minutes any opponent has recorded in a single game against Philly. Wiemer, who had 31 PIMs, and Lance Ward, who had 29 PIMs, set career highs in penalty minutes in a single game.
As for Fedoruk and Worrell, this would be the last time the two heavyweights would go head-to-head. It was one of 12 games in Worrell’s NHL career where he racked up 20 PIMs or more. Fedoruk also had 20 PIMs, the first of two games in his NHL career with 20 PIMs as he recorded 27 PIMs two months later against the Montreal Canadiens. With the league moving more towards speed and scoring, we aren’t going to see enforcers like Fedoruk and Worrell battle each other multiple times in a single game let alone multiple times over several seasons.
*Stats provided by Hockey-Reference
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