Flyers Share Connection With Brandon Wheat Kings

About three weeks ago, the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings named six players to their All Time Team Roster. Five of them have ties to the Philadelphia Flyers franchise—and they aren’t run-of-the-mill players in the Flyers’ past, present and future.

General Manager Ron Hextall made the roster in the goalie position, while Ray Allison, Brian Propp and Brad McCrimmon also made the team; the two former as forwards and the latter as a defenseman. Last, but not least, Flyers defenseman of the future Ivan Provorov rounded out the blue line.

As it turns out, the connection between the Wheat Kings and the Flyers goes beyond those five.

Flyers-Wheat Kings Forwards

Brian Propp coaching the Flyers alumni (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers).

Brian Propp

A dominant scorer for the Wheat Kings, Propp translated that to Philadelphia after the Flyers selected him in the first round of the 1979 draft. In parts of 11 seasons with the Flyers, the now 58-year-old had four 90-plus-point seasons.

During his run in the ’80s, Propp made it to the Stanley Cup Finals three times: in 1980, ’85 and ’87, falling short each time. But he had some good team luck during his time in Brandon.

In Propp’s final season with the Wheat Kings, the team won the WHL Championship. With an astounding 194 regular season points and 38 more in the playoffs, Propp was a big factor in the win.

Ray Allison

Propp’s linemate for much of his time in Brandon ended up joining him later in Philadelphia after the Hartford Whalers traded Allison to the Flyers in a deal that involved Rick MacLeish. The trade gave Allison a chance to become an NHL player after a couple years of AHL play.

The British Columbia native scored 54 points in 51 games in 1981-82 after a call-up with the Flyers. The following season was successful in the stats book, but not off it.

Allison accumulated 51 points but suffered an ankle injury that inhibited his career. After the 1982-83 season, the center played just 50 more NHL games, all with the Flyers. However, he did play with their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, until 1990.

Like Propp, Allison was a prolific junior scorer, amassing as many as 160 points in a season with the Wheat Kings.

Brayden Schenn

At one point during his tenure with the Wheat Kings, Schenn was called “probably the best young player outside the NHL” by Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. His time with the Wheat Kings seemed to prove that.

Brayden Schenn has become a part of the Flyers’ core (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers).

In the 2009-10 season, Schenn accumulated 99 points in 59 games while captaining Brandon. In 15 playoff games, he recorded 19 points. The next year, the 2009 fifth overall pick played just two more games with the Wheat Kings before a trade to the Saskatoon Blades.

That summer, he was traded by the Los Angeles Kings to the Flyers in the Mike Richards deal, where Schenn now has two 25-plus goal seasons under his belt and is a part of the Philadelphia core.

John Paddock

Paddock played just 47 games in Philadelphia over two stints with the team, but it’s his work in his post-playing career that makes him a part of the Flyer family.

After a season as the head coach with the Ottawa Senators, the Flyers named Paddock head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Phantoms, who were at the time in Adirondack. The next season, he was promoted to assistant general manager of the Flyers.

Paddock was let go by the team in the summer of 2014, but has since returned to the WHL as the head coach of the Regina Pats. During his playing days with the Wheat Kings, Paddock scored 88 points in 79 games.

Other Wheat Kings/Flyers forwards: Kirby Law, Marty Murray, Carl Mokosak, Mike Maneluk

Flyers-Wheat Kings Defensemen

Brad McCrimmon

Another teammate of Propp’s and Allison’s during their Wheat Kings days, McCrimmon later joined up with them in Philadelphia. Originally a Boston Bruins draft pick, the left-handed defenseman was dealt to the Flyers for goalie Pete Peeters in 1982.

McCrimmon spent the next five years in the orange and black, having some of his best offensive seasons including 56 and 43-point outings in 1985-86 and 1984-85, respectively. Part of that reason was that he completed an excellent pairing with former Hall-of-Famer Mark Howe during his time in Philly.

He was a reliable offensive defenseman in Brandon also, recording two 90-plus point seasons and another 84-point year.

Unfortunately, McCrimmon passed away in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash in 2011, where he was the head coach. He was 52 years old.

Ivan Provorov

Ivan Provorov has a bright future in Philly. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers).

If 30 years from now Provorov is named to the Flyers’ All-Time Team, fans will be ecstatic and maybe not so surprised. The Russian-born blueliner was a game-changer during his time with the Wheat Kings, amassing 134 points in two seasons and helping the team to a WHL Championship in 2016.

While he’s only played 79 games so far with the Flyers this year, the hope and some expectation is there that he can do the same thing in Philadelphia. Provorov seems to be on that path, improving nearly every game and increasing his workload as the season has progressed.

Ole-Kristian Tollefsen

Tollefsen only played 18 games with the Flyers, but has the recognition of being one of only a handful of Norwegians to have played in the NHL and was traded for Ville Leino, who was an instrumental part of Philadelphia’s 2010 Cup Final run.

The former Columbus Blue Jacket draft pick was a tough customer in both the NHL and juniors. He recorded 23 penalty minutes with the Flyers, but 94 and 73 in two seasons with the Wheat Kings. Tollefsen also contributed a bit offensively with 50 points.

Other Wheat Kings/Flyers defensemen: Wade Skolney

Flyers/Wheat Kings Goalies

Ron Hextall

Hextall missed his time with Propp, Allison and McCrimmon with the Wheat Kings by just a year, but later joined Propp in Philadelphia in the late ’80s. His time in Brandon foreshadowed some of his future with the Flyers.

After two rebuilding years and goals-against-averages above 5.00, Hextall earned 29 wins with the Wheat Kings in 1983-84 with just 13 losses. He led Brandon back to the playoffs amid a 48-point improvement by the team.

Ron Hextall Philadelphia Flyers
Ron Hextall is now the GM in Philly. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers).

Also among his stats from that year are eight assists and 117 penalty minutes. Years later with the Flyers, Hextall was still unafraid to move the puck and unafraid to mix it up with the opposition. That made him a fan favorite, but also earned him some individual accomplishments like the Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy in 1987.

Hextall is considered among the top three in Flyers goalies and today, is trying to get the team back to the glory land as the GM.

Jacob De Serres

De Serres never played an NHL game. Not with the Flyers, not with anyone else—and he only played 32 in Brandon. But he’s the only other Wheat King netminder with a Flyers connection.

Philadelphia drafted the now 27-year-old in the third round of the 2008 Draft, while he was a member of the Seattle Thunderbirds. During the 2009-10 season, De Serres was traded to the Wheat Kings where he recorded an impressive 25 wins.

However, the Flyers didn’t sign De Serres to an entry-level deal and the netminder played another year in juniors, but this time with the Saint Johns Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.