Flyers by the Number: One

“Flyers by the Number” is a new segment where we will take a look at the greatest player to wear every number for the Philadelphia Flyers. Today we will appropriately begin with the number one. 

The Philadelphia Flyers have been an NHL franchise for a grand total of 48 seasons. In that time, only three men (all goaltenders) have ever worn the number one on the back of their orange and black sweater. The first two, Doug Favell and Dunc Wilson, are far from household names amongst the Flyers’ faithful. However, the third and final “number-one” is a legend not only in Philadelphia but throughout the entire National Hockey League. He is none other than Bernie Parent.

“Only the Lord Saves More Than Bernie Parent”

Parent started his NHL career with the Boston Bruins in 1965. In two seasons with the Bruins, he played 57 games, won 15, and had a 3.67 GAA. Boston left Parent unprotected for the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft where he was then scooped up by the Flyers.

In his first stint with Philadelphia, the Montreal native split time between the pipes with Favell. As Favell began to demonstrate a decline in his production and deal with injuries, Parent morphed into the team’s number-one goalie.

However, on February 1, 1971, Philadelphia made a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs sending them Parent and a 2nd round pick in exchange for Bruce Gamble, Mike Walton, and a 1st round draft pick. In Parent’s two years with the Leafs, he played in 65 games, earned 24 wins, and recorded a 2.59 GAA.

On May 15, 1973, Toronto traded Parent’s rights back to the Flyers for a first round pick and Favell. Luckily, Philadelphia acquired Parent at the perfect time as the netminder would experience the greatest two seasons of his career directly after. In the 1973-1974, the 28-year-old goaltender played in a career-high 73 games going 47-13-12  with a league-best 1.89 GAA. In addition, he recorded 12 shutouts that season. Parent’s played was good enough for him to share the Vezina Trophy with Tony Esposito of the Chicago Blackhawks. He was also awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as his stellar goaltending led the Flyers to their first Stanley Cup Championship.

The 1974-75 season would be another Vezina Trophy winning one for Mr. Parent as he once again displayed phenomenal talent in net. He went 44-14-10 in 68 games and once again shut out opponents on 12 separate occasions. Parent and the Flyers would go on to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup that summer.

Unfortunately, injuries and a change to the game of hockey would limit Parent’s successes for the rest of his career. Stand-up goaltending was becoming a thing of the past as goalies adapted their styles to counter what had turned into a high-scoring game. Netminders such as Patrick Roy were now ruling the roost with their butterfly style. On February 17, 1979, Parent suffered a career-ending eye injury that would cause permanent damage to his vision. He was forced to retire at the age of 34.

The Only “One” That Matters

There is no arguing that you are the greatest player to wear a specific number for a team when that team retires the number in your honor. This is the case with Bernie Parent and the Philadelphia Flyers. He is hands-down their greatest “number one” as well as the greatest goaltender to go between the pipes for the orange and black.

Parent is a legend from the most iconic time in Philadelphia Flyers’ history. Without him, the team’s number of Stanley Cup Championships might very well be zero. For this reason, Bernie Parent will always have a special place in the heart of each and every Flyers’ fan.