Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers


Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Eric Desjardins was born June 14, 1969 in Rouyn, Quebec. He was originally selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round (38th overall) of the 1987 NHL Draft.

Desjardins had considerable success during his time with the Habs, including a Stanley Cup ring (1992-93) and a hat trick in the Final against the Los Angeles Kings. He spent the first six-plus seasons of his NHL career with Montreal.

Shortly after the settlement of the 1994-95 lockout, Desjardins was acquired by the Flyers from the Montreal Canadiens on February 9, 1995 in a blockbuster deal that also brought fellow future Flyers Hall of Famer John LeClair as well as Gilbert Dionne while sending Mark Recchi to Montreal. The trade paid immediate dividends for the Flyers, who vaulted to Stanley Cup contender status after missing the playoffs five consecutive seasons.

Spending the remainder of his career in Philadelphia, Desjardins became one of the highest-scoring and best all-around defensemen in Flyers history, recording 396 points (93 G, 303 A) over 738 career games. He ranked second in franchise history among blueliners in goals, assists and points, behind only Mark Howe. 

Desjardins was nicknamed "Rico" by teammates, as in Rico Suave. His two most frequent defense partners were fellow ex-Canadiens defenseman Kevin Haller in Desjardins' first two seasons with the Flyers and Chris Therien thereafter.

A consummate professional, Desjardins kept himself in excellent physical condition. Although he had numerous significant injuries during his Flyers' career, Desjardins found ways to bounce back upon his return.

During the course of his 10-plus season career with the Philadelphia Flyers, Desjardins was one of the most under-appreciated sports stars in the city. He just went about his business in a quiet, graceful and dignified way and it was easy for even many Flyers fans to take his play for granted. "Rico" was a model of consistency, game after game and year after year.

During his career, Desjardins may not quite have been a Norris Trophy candidate at the very top of the NHL heap, but he was in the category a half-step down: perennial All-Star caliber two-way defensemen. While there is temptation to compare Desjardins to other top Flyers defensemen such as Mark Howe or Kimmo Timonen, the best comparison player may be someone who never played for the Flyers: Teppo Numminen. They played a similar style, both shot righthanded and had similar temperaments.

An often over-looked part of Desjardins' career is the way he adjusted his game over the years as major injuries set in. A turning point season for him was the 1998-99 campaign, when he valiantly played through an 80 percent tear of his left anterior cruciate ligament (wearing a brace while essentially playing on one leg). Subsequently, he had a pair of serious shoulder separations and a shattered forearm that required a titanium plate to be inserted for stability.

Desjardins adjusted his game accordingly over the years. For example, he employed a six-day-per-week workout regimen to add strength after the ACL tear -- which affected his skating for a couple of seasons -- caused him to lose a step. Previously, Desjardins had been one of the smoothest skating defensemen in the NHL. He coped without missing a beat.

"Rico" always played a highly intelligent and structured game. Perhaps it was no coincidence, then, that he played the best hockey of his Flyers career under the structured approaches implemented by Murray, Roger Neilson and Ken Hitchcock. It was under Hitchcock that Desjardins experienced a latter-career revival after a couple of uneven seasons both for the team and for himself.

Two of the defensemen's best offensive seasons came in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, the first of which saw him record 51 points (15 G, 36 A) in just 68 games. The following year, Desjardins posted 55 points (14 G, 41 A) in 80 games. He was named a second-team postseason NHL All-Star in both seasons and finished in the top five in Norris Trophy voting in both of those years.

Desjardins was a seven-time Barry Ashbee Award winner as the Flyers' best defenseman, which is a franchise high, and was a three time NHL All-Star Game participant - once with Montreal in 1992 (a game played at the Spectrum) and twice with the Flyers, in 1996 and 2000. Internationally, he played for Team Canada at the 1985-86 and 1986-87 World Junior Championships, the 1991 Canada Cup, 1996 World Cup of Hockey and 1998 Winter Olympics.

Overall for his NHL career, Desjardins played 1,143 regular season games (136 goals, 439 assists, 575 points, 757 penalty minutes) and 168 playoff games (23 goals, 57 assists, 80 points, 93 penalty minutes).        
Eric Desjardins.