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The best Philadelphia Flyers defensemen and goalies to never win a Stanley Cup

The Flyers had some great defensemen and goalies that came up short in the playoffs.

Philadelphia Flyers v Montreal Canadiens Wales Conference Finals

The Philadelphia Flyers have had several teams that were unable to win a Stanley Cup over the years. While we were going through them this week, it got us to thinking: who are the best players in Flyers history to not win a Stanley Cup?

When looking at the best Flyers to never win a Stanley Cup during their playing days, I focused in on players with long tenures in Philadelphia. I also keyed in on the word never, meaning that players that won the Stanley Cup before or after their stints in Philadelphia were not considered.

We dove into the forwards earlier, and now it’s time for the defensemen and goalies.

Here are the best defensemen and goalies in Flyers history – listed chronologically – to not win a Stanley Cup.

Bob Dailey (1977 - 1982)

Games: 304 (71st)
Goals: 56 (62nd)
Assists: 138 (46th)
Points: 194 (48th)
Plus/Minus: +125 (22nd)
Stanley Cup Final appearances: 1 (1980)

Bob Dailey was one of the first – and best – offensive defensemen in Flyers history. Dailey had a big frame to check the opposition off of the puck, and he could score with the best of them as well.

After starting his career in Vancouver, the Flyers traded for Dailey in the 1976-77 season. Dailey broke out in his first full season with the Flyers, scoring a career-high 21 goals and 57 points in the 1977-78 season as the team’s top defenseman, earning him a trip to his first All-Star Game.

Dailey’s 21 goals that season were the most by a Flyers defenseman up until that point, surpassing Tom Bladon’s 14 in the 1975-76 season. It still holds as the second-most goals by a Flyers defenseman in a season, behind Mark Howe’s 24 in 1985-86.

Dailey put up 17 points in 19 games in the 1980 playoffs, which was the only year he reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Unfortunately, Dailey’s career was cut short due to injuries in the 1981-82 season, otherwise he’d be up there with the other great defensemen to don the Orange and Black.

Pelle Lindbergh (1981 - 1985)

Games: 157 (10th)
Wins: 87 (7th)
Shutouts: 7 (T-10th)
Goals Saved Above Average: 55 (5th)
Goals Against Average (adjusted): 2.60 (7th)
Stanley Cup Final appearances: 1 (1985)

Pelle Lindbergh is one of the ultimate “What if?” stories in Philadelphia sports. His tragic death during the 1985-86 season cut short the life and career of a young goaltender.

Lindbergh was named the goalie on the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1983 and went on to win the Vezina Trophy and backstop the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1985. He led the NHL with 40 wins, 1732 saves (on 1926 shots), 3,849 minutes played, and a Goals Saved Above Average of 47.41 that season. That still stands as the 17th best single-season GSAA in NHL history.

Lindbergh seemed destined to win a Stanley Cup at some point in his career after a terrific season in 1984-85. What could have been...

Brad Marsh (1981 - 1988)

Games: 514 (34th; 11th among defensemen)
Goals: 14 (T-165th; 38th defensemen)
Assists: 96 (69th; 24th defensemen)
Points: 110 (90th; 26th defensemen)
Plus/Minus: +98 (T-27th; 11th defensemen)
Stanley Cup Final appearances: 2 (1985, 1987)

Like Dailey, Brad Marsh was an in-season addition for the Flyers. Marsh played for the Flames from 1978 until the 1981-82 season, when he was traded to Philadelphia.

As you can tell by his goal total, Marsh was more of a defensive defenseman. What he didn’t have in skill or talent he made up for with his work ethic and willingness to block shots. He was a defenseman’s defenseman, and that endeared him to the Philadelphia faithful.

Marsh wasn’t afraid to block shots or lay big checks, and that’s what was needed in the ‘80s. He was a key cog on the Flyers’ blue line en route to the Stanley Cup Final in 1985 and 1987.

Mark Howe (1982 - 1992)

Games: 594 (22nd; 6th among defensemen)
Goals: 138 (T-24th; 1st defensemen)
Assists: 342 (10th; 1st defensemen)
Points: 480 (16th; 1st defensemen)
Plus/Minus: +351 (2nd; 1st defensemen)
Stanley Cup Final appearances: 2 (1985, 1987)

Like Eric Lindros for the forwards, Mark Howe is undoubtedly the best Flyers defenseman to never win a Stanley Cup. In fact, he’s one of the best defensemen in NHL history to never win a Stanley Cup.

After playing six seasons in the WHA and three season for the Hartford Whalers, he was traded to the Flyers. This was after one of the most memorable injuries in NHL history that caused the league to change the design of the net. The Whalers lost faith in him after his recovery, and the Flyers are glad they did.

Howe was the No. 1 defenseman for all of those Flyers teams in the 1980s that went deep into the playoffs. He was an All-Star three times (1983, 1986, 1987), and the runner up for the Norris Trophy in those years as well. Howe’s best season came in 1985-86, when he recorded 82 points and was a +87 in 77 games. His 24 goals that year are still the most by a Flyers defenseman in a single season.

Howe scored an impressive 24 shorthanded goals in his Flyers career, and has the NHL record for most shorthanded goals (28) by a defenseman.

In the 1987 playoffs, Howe recorded 12 points and was a +15 in 26 games. He was one of the biggest reasons that the Flyers were able to push the Oilers to seven games that year, but they still ultimately came up short.

Howe struggled with injuries in the latter part of his career, which caused him to play in just 153 games over his final four seasons with the Flyers. He then joined the Detroit Red Wings in search of winning the Stanley Cup, but they also fell short.

Mark Howe was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. The Flyers retired Howe’s #2 in 2012.

Ron Hextall (1986 - 1992; 1994 - 1999)

Games: 489 (1st)
Wins: 240 (1st)
Shutouts: 18 (3rd)
Goals Saved Above Average: 38 (7th)
Goals Against Average (adjusted): 2.70 (9th)
Stanley Cup Final appearances: 2 (1987, 1997)

Ron Hextall should have won a Stanley Cup.

Hextall won the Vezina Trophy in his rookie year en route to the Stanley Cup Final in 1987 on one of the best Flyers teams to not win the Cup. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in those playoffs, and It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Hextall won one – or multiple. However, he only got back there as a backup in 1997, when the Flyers were swept.

That shouldn’t take away from what Hextall did while donning the Orange and Black, though.

Hextall was a one-of-a-kind goalie with his physical play as well as his ability to join the play – and score goals. He became the first goalie to score a goal by shooting the puck into the empty net, and did it again in the playoffs the next year.

He was revolutionary for the goalie position in how mobile he played with his willingness to leave the crease; and he was pretty strong in the crease as well. He had GSAAs of 41.83, 22.31, 19.24, and 10.34 throughout his career, and he ended up with a pretty strong career GSAA of 38.

Hextall was the best goalie in the league for a few years, but the odds weren’t in his favor as he was never able to win the Stanley Cup in his playing days.

Ron Hextall was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2008.

Chris Therien (1994 - 2003; 2005-06)

Games: 753 (5th; 1st among defensemen)
Goals: 29 (102nd; T-20th defensemen)
Assists: 130 (49th; 14th defensemen)
Points: 159 (64th; 15th defensemen)
Plus/Minus: +126 (21st; 8th defensemen)
Stanley Cup Final appearances: 1 (1997)

Chris Therien was the longest-tenured defensemen in Flyers history, and it wasn’t just because Eric Desjardins was carrying him around. Desjardins and Therien made up a formidable top pair for the Flyers with “Bundy” being the more defensive defenseman of the two.

Therien was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, and he made a home for himself in the league from there on out. His best season coincided with the Flyers’ run – and his only run – to the Stanley Cup Final. He had a career-high 24 points and was a +27 for the Orange and Black in the 1996-97 season. He added seven points and led the team with a +14 in 19 playoff games.

He wasn’t a flashy defenseman – he left that to his partner –, but he got the job done in a very effective manner.