Since their inception in 1967, the Philadelphia Flyers have become one of the NHL’s most iconic franchises.
From the early days of the Broad Street Bullies with Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz, and Bernie Parent to the 80’s teams featuring Ron Hextall, Tim Kerr, and Mark Howe; the Flyers sure made their fare share of die hard fans and enemies.
That didn’t change as the newer era of Flyers hockey led by Eric Lindros and the Legion of Doom on down to the new kids like Claude Giroux and current bullies like Kevin Hayes, Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny.
Both the success the Flyers have enjoyed on the ice and the personalities they’ve had over the years have helped make them a slew of enemies, and spurred some pretty intense rivalries along the way.
We’ve already spend tons of time analyzing the Flyers’ rivalries with the Penguins all the way down to the 80’s Oilers (screw you, pals). But now it’s time to let bygones by bygones and pick five guys from the Flyers’ rivals that we don’t actually hate.
And man was it ever far from easy.
Let’s start with the Flyers’ longtime and most prominent current nemesis: the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s hard to imagine a player that averaged 1.18 points per game against the Flyers in his career to make this list but Jagr is one of those rare players that is impossible to hate no matter the uniform —and there have been many for this legend.
The NHL’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,921 points gets the nod here for spurning his first NHL team —the Penguins— upon his highly anticipated return to the NHL in the summer of 2011 to sign with...you guessed it, the Flyers.
While Yinzers were dreaming of a bridge from the old guard of Jagr to the new guard in Sidney Crosby and Evegni Malkin, the Czech legend had his own designs on playing with the soon-to-be best player in the world.
The Claude Giroux/Jagr connected ran train on the NHL in 2011-12 as both enjoyed tremendous seasons with G hitting the 93-point mark and Jags posting 54 points in 73 games as a 39-year-old.
But the kicker in this one? Jagr had 12 points in 12 games against the Penguins that season, including a goal and six assists in the Flyers’ six-game series win over the Penguins in the Conference Quarterfinals that spring.
Long live the salute, no matter which sweater it happens to take place in.
While Jagr gets the nod for his on-ice play and general awesomeness, the next name on our list makes it simply because the Flyers really got over over their rivals here, and it was mostly at the hands of the player himself.
Hamhuis, then a steady top-four defender for the Nashville Predators, was up for a new contract and the team simply didn’t have the cash to retain him with a certain long-term contract for another franchise defenseman looming. But there was more, even if Nashville had the cash to make a tempting offer, Hamhuis had made it know to pretty much everyone that he was looking to return to Northwestern Canada.
Knowing this but still desperate to add to a razor thin defense, Paul Holmgren still kicked the Predators (and his close friend David Poile, at least for another year that is) a middling player (Ryan Parent and future considerations) to gain Hamhuis’ rights in order to try and convince him about a future in Philadelphia.
That never gained traction, but Holmgren did gain enough knowledge of Hamhuis’ thinking that he could easily sneak a pick out of another team for Hamhuis’ rights before the player would ultimately hit unrestricted free agency and sign out west as he had planned all along.
That team he baited? The Pittsburgh Penguins, who send a third round pick to the Flyers on June 25, 2010 for Hamuis’ rights. Hamhuis signed with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1st.
The longtime NHL defenseman is another Penguin that’s hard to hate because he played just 19 games for the franchise after 274 games with the Flyers. He was an underrated Flyer, too, racking up 140 points on the blue line —good for 14th-most in Flyers history.
A late arrival to the NHL at age 28, Streit was able to find a nice career capper with a Stanley Cup ring as part of the 2016-17 Penguins. While normally we don’t condone any Penguins Cup runs, this one is generally okay since it gave a ring to a guy who literally broke his, um, yeah.
Never totally going to hate a guy who A) went through a pubic plate detachment and B) was generally a really good player who just happened to play for the Penguins for a few months.
But on the flip side, there is certainly a good reason that we do actually hate this dude. When the Flyers traded him in 2017, they acquired Valtteri Filppula back from Tampa Bay. And man that guy really sucked.
Sure, the Penguins had their fare share of success with Fleury between the pipes, but the Flyers also had tremendous success against the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft as well.
For starters, Fleury carried just a .900 save percentage and a 2.89 goals-against average against the Flyers in his career as a Penguin despite a 27-17-2 record. Dig deeper and Fleury’s playoff struggles against the Flyers were a big reason the Flyers won that series back in 2012 where he posted a ghastly .834 save percentage and a 4.63 goals-against.
It also gave us photoshops that keep on giving.
Marc Andre Fleury...Beach Ball Hockey All Star!!! pic.twitter.com/ijWFmKElYF— Forever Blueshirts (@4EverBlueshirts) January 25, 2015
MAF also wore some rather hideously bright yellow pads earlier on in his career, and those were kind of awesome in retrospect.
Unless you’re a super die hard NHL fan, you probably have zero clue who in the heck Richard Zemlak is and have never heard of him.
Well pull up a chair and listen up, youths.
Zemlak, quite literally, is the least productive Penguin against the Flyers in NHL history with the most amount of games and the least amount of points against the Orange and Black with a grand total of zero.
Though a small sample size of just seven regular season and one playoff game, Zemlak was unable to find a single point against the Flyers in an era filled with guys lightning boxscores up left and right.
Zemlak went scoreless in 31 regular season games for the 1988-89 Penguins team, plus another in the playoffs (why he drew in the lineup who knows) and another three games for the then-Minnesota North Stars before being traded to the Penguins in November.
To put this into persecutive, Mario Lemieux went scoreless in just eight of 76 games during the regular season in 1988-89 and in just two of 11 games during the 1989 Stanley Cup playoffs.
He’s easily the worst performing Penguin against the Flyers in history, and for that he’s one of the five that we absolutely don’t hate one bit.
That’s the list of five Penguins that we really don’t hate. Drop yours down in the comments and stay tuned for Part 2 where we explore the guys who we hated a bit more than the guys listed above and didn’t make the cut.
* All statistics unless otherwise noted via hockeyreference.com *