I remember the Broad Street Bullies, barely, since I was five and six years old when they won their Stanley Cups. My memories of those teams are basically from the highlights I’ve seen countless times and the stories that I’ve heard from family members. I was five and six years old at the times of those Stanley Cups. Since I was more interested in my army figurines at the time, it’s not fair for me to compare you to those legends.
I do remember watching the likes of Mel Bridgman, Ken Linseman, Tim Kerr, Brian Propp, Mark Howe, Rick Tocchet, Peter Zezel, Pelle Eklund, Rod Brind’Amour, and Mark Recchi. You, you were in another stratosphere.
I’ve never seen anyone play with such skill and physical presence before you or after you. You made every shift an adventure. I knew, on every shift, there was a high possibility that I’d see a blistering shot, a jaw-dropping assist, or an arena-rocking check. Flyers games, during your tenure, were the true must-see TV during your eight years here.
Your Hart Trophy acceptance speech remains one of greatest, rawest, honest speeches I’ve seen from a Philadelphia athlete. You thanked the fans for supporting you while the team wasn’t so good and promised us better things. What more could we have asked for?
You had your critics. They hammered you for being a spoiled kid because you didn’t want to play for Quebec. No one gave John Elway the same grief when he refused to play for the Colts. I’ve been to the French-speaking parts of Canada. I wouldn’t want to live there either. Give me Toronto any day!
They hammered you publicly for having your mom and dad manage your affairs. That probably wasn’t the wisest move, but you were a kid and they were your parents. Family is a messy situation. Ask Ryan Howard or Jack Johnson.
They criticized you for being soft and not playing through injuries. If only they knew then what they know now about concussions. Your family was right for trying to get you to take more time to heal from the concussions.
You were the fourth fastest player to 400 points in NHL history. You rank 19th All-Time in the NHL for Points Per Game at 1.138. That’s better than some Hall of Famers. You deserve to be in the Flyers Hall of Fame and the NHL’s Hall of Fame. You changed the game with your combination of skill and strength.
The Flyers have never been the same. Maybe that’s karma for the way you were treated at times, because of your concussions. Hopefully, your induction to the Flyers Hall of Fame puts that karma to rest once and for all.
Thank you for the excitement, the passion, and the entertainment. You were the best I’ve seen to wear the orange and black post 1980.
Congratulations on your induction into the Flyers Hall of Fame. You deserve that and more.