Welcome, one and all, to this new series starting here during the offseason at Broad Street Hockey.
It’s been partially inspired by content recently posted on the NHL Europe Instagram account, where there have been daily “takeovers” where a particular player from one European nation or another will be highlighted, and their best career plays are exemplified. These players have ranged from Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek, to Marco Sturm and current players such as Sebastian Aho.
So, on The Flyers’ World Cup of Hockey, we will be creating all-time lineups for each nation with enough players historically to have a forward line, defensive pair, and goaltender. The only rule is that each player included had to have played for the Flyers at one point in their career. Being drafted by the Flyers does not count. Oh, and did we mention once all the teams are created, they’ll be pitted against each other?
To start, and to give an example of what this project will entail, we will start with Sweden. As we know, the Flyers in the modern era scout heavily in Sweden, and historically have featured a number of highly talented Swedish players. You can be fairly confident that Team Sweden will be a force to reckon with in this fictional tournament!
G - Pelle Lindbergh
Lindbergh is by far the best Swedish goaltender in Flyers history, and is one of the most talented backstops the Flyers have ever had overall.
He is best remembered for his stellar 1984-85 season, where he led the NHL with 40 wins, and in doing so became the first ever European goaltender to win the Vezina trophy (the next European goaltender to win it would be Dominik Hasek). Lindbergh was named an NHL first team all-star, and in fact, set an interesting precedent for modern goaltenders. Due to suffering from dehydration, Lindbergh was the first NHL goaltender to have a water bottle on ice!
Though his career was ultimately cut short by tragedy, Lindbergh remains one of the best to ever play the position in the orange and black. His goaltending was superb, especially given the increasingly offensive hockey style of the 80’s.
LD - Kjell Samuelsson
Icing 545 games for the Flyers in nine seasons spent in Philadelphia, Samuelsson was the definition of the prototypical defenseman back in the 1980’s. He was big, bruising, and effective at clearing the slot. Yet, he was also fairly mobile, and twice won the Barry Ashbee Trophy.
In his NHL career, he registered 186 points, with 141 of them coming with the Flyers.
RD - Kim Johnsson
Acquired in the deal that sent Eric Lindros to the New York Rangers, Johnsson was one of the Flyers’ best defensemen in the early/mid 2000’s. He was an offensive blue-liner who had the ability to score some very pretty goals, including this goal in Eric Lindros’ first game back in Philadelphia after being traded.
In 291 games as a Flyer over four seasons, Johnsson scored 147 points.
LW - Pelle Eklund
Another representative from the 1980’s, Eklund was a center, but he’ll be a winger for this team. Eklund was a smooth skating playmaker who thrice accumulated 50 assists or more in a single season.
Perhaps, however, he is best known for his performance in the 1987 playoffs, where he scored 27 points en-route to the Flyers’ making an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. His total number of assists, 20, was only bested by Wayne Gretzky.
C - Peter Forsberg
What else is there to say about Peter Forsberg that hasn’t already been said?
Though his time as a Flyer was short, despite being initially drafted by the Flyers, Forsberg was about as electric a player as the NHL had ever seen. To quote Bill Clement, “if hockey were played in a phone booth, Forsberg would be the best”.
Forsberg was magical with the Flyers regardless. Joined with Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble on his wing, the “Deuces Line” produced points at an elite acumen. With Forsberg on his line, Gagne recorded a career high in goals with 47, and the two were so compatible they were nicknamed the “Dynamic Duo”.
RW - Mikael Renberg
Making up 1/3 of the Legion of Doom, Mikael Renberg, at least from what I’ve seen, is usually the least mentioned member of the trio. Everybody knows Eric Lindros, and John LeClair had a fairly long career with the Flyers after Lindros’ departure. This is perhaps because Renberg spent time with the Lightning in between stints with the Flyers, and later would finish his career in Toronto. However, Renberg cannot be ignored, as he was crucial to ensuring the Legion of Doom’s success.
In the end, Renberg 366 games as a Flyer, scoring 296 points.
Honorable Mentions: Oskar Lindblom, Robert Hagg, Cristian Folin (just kidding)