Every sports fan gets nostalgic. It’s in our blood. If you talk to Flyers fans about who their favorite Flyers are, many will refer to one of the Bullies: Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, or Bernie Parent. Some who grew up in the 1980s might mention Mark Howe, Ron Hextall, Pelle Lindbergh, or Rick Tocchet. Anyone from the 90s will mention Legion of Doomers like Eric Lindros and John LeClair. Others will say, Keith Primeau. Younger fans will mention Claude Giroux or Wayne Simmonds. I myself would offer up Rod Brind’amour.
But the funny thing is, few would ever mention Mark Recchi. He’s a Hall of Famer. Ten of his 22 years as a player were spent in Philly in two different stints. He holds the all-time points record with 123 in 1992-93 and is near the top of most of the offensive stat categories. So why is he forgotten by most Flyers fans? More importantly, why is his #8 not hanging in the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center?
If you look at the Flyers leaderboards, he is all over them. He is tied for 12th in all-time goals with Tocchet with 232 goals. He is in sixth place in assists with 395. His 627 points place him ninth all-time. Recchi is tied for 12th, with Simon Gagne, with 74 power play goals. He is 13th with 10 shorthanded goals. And he is sixth in power play points at 230. Overall, he is 21st all-time with 577 goals, 15th with 956 assists, and 13th with 1533 overall points. Not bad.
Fans of the Philadelphia Flyers will always remember Mark Recchi
So why is his jersey not retired? He is on good terms with the team. He has participated in many alumni events. It’s not as if there is a lot of bad public beef between him and the team….and even then, Eric Lindros’s 88 is hanging up!
Recchi first came to the Flyers in 1992 in a blockbuster trade. He came to Philly with a 1st round pick and Briand Benning for 3rd round draft pick, Kjell Samuelsson, Rick Tocchet and Ken Wregget. The Flyers gave up a lot to get him, but it did help the Penguins win their second Stanley Cup in a row.
However, Recchi took off. In 22 games, he scored 10 goals with 17 assists. The following year, he had his magical 123-point season that included 53 goals. The following year, he added another 40-goal season.
Then the lockout of 1994 happened. When play resumed, the Flyers decided to shake up the team. In February of 1995, Recchi, their best player, was sent off to Montreal, the reigning Cup Champions, with a third-round pick. In return, the Flyers got Eric Desjardins, Gilbert Dionne and John LeClair. LeClair would flourish as a Legion of Doomer for years with Lindros while Desjardins would become the main defender for the better part of a decade. This blockbuster trade helped to propel the Flyers to the top of the Eastern Conference teams.
And while he had good seasons with the Canadiens, that was a team in flux. They never returned to the Stanley Cup finals. Looking to make a move and get younger, they dealt Recchi back to Philly for a pair of draft picks and struggling young player Dainius Zubrus in 1999. So overall, they got Recchi, Leclair, and Desjardins for some draft picks and Zubrus. Again…not a bad haul.
Reunited in Philly, Recchi didn’t lose a step. In his second five-year stint, he was one of the team’s top scorers; usually paired up with Lindros or Primeau. And even year, the team seemed to fall just short of hockey glory.
Once again, a hockey lockout intervened. This one, the brutal one of 2004-05 saw a whole season disappear. When play resumed, Recchi was a free agent. The Flyers moved on, acquiring other players such as Peter Forsberg, Derian Hatcher, and Mike Rathje while vets like Jeremy Roenick and LeClair were tossed aside.
The shame of it is the season before, the Flyers took a younger, faster Tampa Bay Lightning to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals. The Lightning, under Coach John Tortorella, would win the cup in seven games over Calgary. Recchi would play for seven more years. He would pick up Stanley Cup rings in Carolina in 2006 and Boston in 2011. He would be enshrined in the hockey of hall of fame in 2017.
Still, he is one of the greatest Flyers and he deserves his due. Half of his career was spent in Philly including his best seasons. He may have been somewhat of a journeyman, but there is no doubt about it. He is a Flyer through and through and needs to be remembered as such.