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Return Flight: a 6-6 tie in Quebec

Lots of familiar faces in different roles

Atlanta Thrashers v New York Islanders Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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.

Over the years, the Philadelphia Flyers have had their fair share of memorable moments against the Colorado Avalanche. Recently, Claude Giroux provided a pair of moments by first undressing Craig Anderson in Philly’s home opener during the 2010-11 season and a few years later when he dangled his way through a handful of Avs to beat Semyon Varlamov in a 2014 overtime loss. Going back even further, the Orange and Black enjoyed a pair of overtime wins thanks to Valeri Zelepukin in 1999 and Eric Desjardins in 2002. For this edition of Return Flight, however, we’re going to look back at...a tie...with the Quebec Nordiques. Specifically, the 6-6 tie on December 9, 1989 at the Colisee Pepsi.

For those out there they may not know, the Quebec Nordiques joined the NHL in 1979, but moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche starting in the 1995-96 season, when they swept the Florida Panthers to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

It’s not often a tie is memorable, but there was a lot going on in this particular game. For one, it’s proof that some things withstand the test of time. Like for instance the broadcast team for this game, which featured Doc Emrick and Bill Clement. Although this individual has a slightly different position today, another familiar face was hosting the pre-game show:

Steve Coates

Of course, there were plenty of recognizable faces on the ice for the Flyers as well. Head coach Paul Holmgren saw the group of Mark Howe, Rick Tocchet (who had a pair of assists before receiving a game misconduct for high sticking Claude Loiselle 17:36 into the contest), Pelle Eklund, Scott Mellanby, Ron Sutter, Murray Craven, and Ken Wregget heavily involved in this 12-goal tie. Mike Bullard registered the only Gordie Howe hat trick in his career and Jiri Latal, a d-man that only scored 12 times in 92 games over three seasons with the Flyers (his only NHL team), had a goal in this contest. A pair of Flyers’ enforcers dropped the gloves in this tie as well, as Tony Horacek got a late shot in on Mario Marois following a rather uneventful bout before Craig Berube ultimately got the best of Ken McRae (QUINTESSENTIAL 80’S MUSTACHE SIGHTING NUMBER ONE: The gentleman at 0:44 who is wearing sunglasses at an indoor sporting event).

For Quebec, there were several notable names as well featuring Peter Stastny (Paul’s father, and the player who had the second-most points during the 1980’s), Curtis Leschyshyn (father of Vegas Golden Knights’ prospect Jake Leschyshyn), and Brian Lawton (1st overall pick in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, currently an analyst on NHL Network). The most notable name on the Nordiques’ roster that evening was a 20-year-old center by the name of Joe Sakic. The forward that posted 1,641 points in 1,378 games with this franchise would ultimately convert on all five of the penalty shots he was rewarded over the entirety of his career. The first of those penalty shots came with 23 seconds left in this game to make it a 6-5 tilt. Just 16 seconds later, with seven seconds left in regulation, Lucien DeBlois tied the game at six on a controversial tally that may have been batted in with a high stick. Blowing a two-goal lead in the final 23 seconds? Something about that feels *very* Flyers. Anyways, below are the game’s highlights accompanied by notes on a few key moments:

Notes (with time marker)

  • 0:25 - Wregget letting in a goal from the neutral zone in a previous meeting, lol.
  • 0:37 - Eklund redirecting Howe’s shot from the point, 1-0.
  • 1:17 - Sutter dances past everyone, 2-0.
  • 1:54 - Latal slams home Tocchet’s feed, 3-0.
  • 2:04 - “And for a moment I sounded like I was 12.” - Emrick. December 9, 1989.
  • 2:30 - “And then wingo.” - Clement. December 9, 1989.
  • 2:35 - Sakic’s first in the game, 3-1.
  • 3:16 - Tony McKegney scores, 3-2.
  • 3:52 - Craven redirects a deep Howe wrister, 4-2.
  • 4:47 - Young Holmgren.
  • 4:51 - Stastny, 4-3.
  • 5:22 - Bullard miiiiiight have gotten away with a hold on Leschyshyn before potting one while off balance 5-3.
  • 7:07 - Keyboardist has the presence of mind to play Gonna Fly Now when Berube is fighting.
  • 7:43 - ...which leads to Clement doing a Rocky Balboa impression.
  • 7:48 - Lawton scores, 5-4.
  • 8:18 - Poulin sets up Craven for his second of the game on a beauty, 6-4.
  • 8:31 - Sakic’s first career penalty shot, 6-5.
  • 9:53 - DeBlois scores for improbable tie, 6-6.
  • 10:15 - QUINTESSENTIAL 80’S MUSTACHE SIGHTING NUMBER TWO: An ecstatic fellow who has time to shop for a jacket that fits now that Quebec no longer has an NHL team.
  • 10:17 - Howe losing all of his shit as the goal stands for a 6-6 tie.

Blowing a two-goal lead in the final 23 seconds to a team that had just six wins in their first 29 games is a pretty fair representation of how the Flyers 1989-90 campaign turned out. After their record moved to 14-12-4 following the tie, the Flyers finished the season 30-39-11 to miss the postseason for the first time since the 1971-72 season. Even if it’s not the most favorable memory, the 6-6 tie against the Nordiques in 1989 is definitely one for the ages.

Previous Return Flights

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