A player having their jersey number retired is an honor that franchises rarely give and only bestow to their most beloved stars. For most teams, excluding several Original Six franchises, the honor is so rare that they barely have more than five or so retired numbers.
For the Philadelphia Flyers, only six franchise legends have had their jersey numbers retired. That list, including Bernie Parent (1), Mark Howe (2), Barry Ashbee (4), Bill Barber (7), Bobby Clarke (16), and Eric Lindros (88), makes perfects sense considering how much each player contributed to the franchise.
Regardless of the great names that make up the Flyers’ retired jersey numbers, there are still plenty that are more than deserving of the honor. It may be a stretch to expect that the franchise would retire the numbers of everyone here, but anyway, these four Flyers have certainly earned the distinction of having their numbers retired.
The case of Pelle Lindbergh is a unique one when it comes to a jersey retirement. The Swedish goaltender played five incredible seasons with the Flyers before he shockingly passed away from a 1985 car accident at the age of 26.
Before Lindbergh’s death, the Swede racked up 87 wins in 157 games with the Flyers, cementing him as one of the franchise’s most legendary netminders with a wildly promising career tragically cut short. Since then, the franchise has essentially, but unofficially, taken the number out of its available rotation, and no Flyer has ever worn the number 31 again. The franchise even hands out an annual “Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy” for the team’s most improved player.
Related: Pelle Lindberg Remembered
At this point, it seems like the ship has sailed for Lindbergh’s number 31 to be retired. However, considering no one has worn the number since and he is continually celebrated by the franchise, the Flyers might as well honor the late goaltender again by officially sending his name and number to the rafters.
It sometimes feels as though Brian Propp doesn’t get the proper recognition he deserves. Second all-time in goal scoring, third all-time in points earned, and with 790 games with the franchise, Propp should be considered one of the best all-time Flyers forwards.
Despite finishing his career with brief stints with the Boston Bruins, Minnesota North Stars, and Hartford Whalers, Propp’s time in the NHL will always be remembered as a Flyer. Since he left Philadelphia in 1990, there have been plenty of other players to don the number 26, but none more memorable and iconic than Propp.
For most franchises, someone with stats like Propp’s would easily earn them a jersey retirement. Although he surprisingly hasn’t earned a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame, a commonality among the Flyers players with retired numbers, Propp’s name is etched in the team’s history and deserves to have his number 26 retired in Philadelphia.
Obviously, the Flyers and Ron Hextall have a long and complicated history. On top of his 489 games played in a Flyers uniform, Hextall served as the general manager for four years from 2014 to 2018. When Hextall’s tenure as GM game to an end in 2018, he and the franchise seemed to have left off on sour terms.
Regardless of the rocky nature of Hextall’s relationship with the Flyers, he’s still undoubtedly a beloved franchise legend. As the winningest goaltender in team history and with the most games played at that position, Hextall seems like a no-brainer to have his number 27 hanging in the rafters alongside fellow goaltending legend
Related: Top 3 All-Time Flyers Goalies
As someone who’s given so much to the franchise, Hextall deserves more recognition in Philadelphia. There’s still plenty of reason to believe the Flyers would formally honor Hextall at some point for his time with the franchise, whether that be with a jersey retirement or some other way. Until then, however, you just have to assume that Hextall and the Flyers aren’t on the greatest of terms.
The One Guarantee
Every player we’ve covered so far has been based on pure skepticism. There aren’t many guarantees when it comes to getting a jersey number retired. It’s safe to say, however, that for the Flyers there is one guarantee.
For the past 11 years, Claude Giroux has cemented himself and the number 28 in Flyers history. He continually climbs the ladder of nearly every franchise stat list, making his case as one of, if not the best player in the team’s history.
Depending on the success he sees in the remainder of his career, Giroux could easily make a case for not just the Flyers Hall of Fame, but the Hockey Hall of Fame as well. It’s regardless if Giroux ever gets another chance to lift the Stanley Cup, the captain’s name and number 28 will undoubtedly hang in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center one day.
Career Stats: 349 goals, 410 assists, 759 points in 846 games
Flyers Stats: 328 goals, 369 assists, 697 points in 741 games
Ranking in the top five of Flyers all-time points and top ten in goals, assists, and games played, Rick MacLeish is an obvious franchise legend. The main and only reason the Flyers would never actually retire MacLeish’s number 19 is because of what Scott Hartnell did with the Flyers in that very same number.
Now in the hands of Nolan Patrick, the number 19 probably won’t go to the rafters for the late MacLeish, but he’s beyond deserving of some consideration.
Career Stats: 291 goals, 310 assists, 601 points in 822 games
Flyers Stats: 264 goals, 271 assists, 535 points in 691 games
There are few Flyers franchise favorites like Simon Gagne. After playing the majority of his career in Philadelphia, fans were ecstatic to see Gagne finally lift the Cup during his time in Los Angeles. Although former Flyers like Gary Dornhoefer and Tim Kerr made the number 12 famous in Philadelphia, most would probably tie the number back to Gagne.
It may be tough to do so considering the other names associated with the number, but there are few names fans would love to see honored in the rafters more than Simon Gagne.
Of course, guessing any of these players might have their jersey numbers retired by the Flyers is purely speculation. With Eric Lindros having his 88 retired so recently, it’ll probably be a while until the Flyers send another number to the rafters. Giroux being the next most likely candidate means it could be well over a decade until we see another jersey number retired in Philadelphia.
As a lifelong hockey player and diehard Philadelphia Flyers fanatic, I’ve always dreamed of covering the team I grew up watching. In my work, I try to combine my knowledge of the sport’s intricate and statistical details with my perspective as a passionate fan. Bringing my love for Flyers hockey to The Hockey Writers one article at a time.