On February 9, 1995, in what would be one of the biggest trades in Philadelphia Flyers history, Mark Recchi made way for a trio of Montreal Canadiens that consisted of Gilbert Dionne, Eric Desjardins, and a 25 year old named John LeClair.
To that point in his career, LeClair had mostly been an average player who contributed a fair amount of offense, but had a Stanley Cup to his name by age 23. His best season to date was the 1992-93 season, where he recorded 44 points in 72 games. After heading south of the border, LeClair took his game to unprecedented heights.
Coming to the Flyers in a mid-season trade, LeClair scored an eye-watering 25 goals and 24 assists in just 37 games. The winger was rewarded for his blistering end to the 1994-95 season by being named to the NHL’s First All-Star team. With his newly-found offensive ability, LeClair formed the ‘Legion of Doom’ line alongside winger Mikael Renberg and center Eric Lindros.
In his first full season with the Flyers in 1995-96, the Vermont product scored 30, 40, and 50 goals for the first time in his career, alongside a career-high 97 points. LeClair would score 97 points the following season as well, but scored one fewer goal than the 51 from 95-96. For good measure, he scored 51 for the third and final time in the 1997-98 season, and thus became the first American in NHL history to score 50 or more goals three years in a row.
LeClair’s production would wane in the years that followed, but still posted a pair of 40-goal seasons before 2000. In the 2000-01 season, he managed to play just 22 games across the regular season and playoffs.
As the 2004-05 season was cancelled and the salary cap introduced under a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Flyers were forced to buy their superstar and long-time club servant out after 10 strong years. LeClair would sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins and play with them for two years, but played in just 94 games with the team before his retirement. LeClair’s 30s weren’t kind to him, and his injuries had always been an issue.
Over 16 years, the American sniper played only 967 games – an average of just 60 per season. Despite that, LeClair was one of the greatest goal-scorers to ever put on a Flyers sweater.