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An original Flyer, the second captain in franchise history, a two-time Stanley Cup winner and a 1993 inductee into the Flyers Hall of Fame, defenseman Ed Van Impe was born May 27, 1940 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Van Impe was one of the players who helped shape the identity of a tough, competitive hockey team. Not blessed with swift skating, flashy puck-handling skills or offensive prowess, the stocky defenseman (5-foot-10, 200 pounds in his prime) had no lack of competitiveness, savvy and toughness. By playing within his strengths and working within his limitations, he forged a 700-game NHL career as one of the league's most reliable defensive defensemen. He was even selected for three NHL All-Star Games (1969, 1974, 1975).

Van Impe played junior hockey in his hometown with the Saskatoon Quakers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He then turned pro, playing one year of minor league hockey with the Calgary Stampeders. Moving up the hockey ladder, he played five seasons for the American Hockey League's Buffalo Bisons (the farm team of the NHL's Chicago Black Hawks). Rawhide tough, he fought often, bodychecked with authority and frequently ranked among the AHL's penalty minute leaders.

In 1966-67, however, a 25-year-old Van Impe finally got his chance with the Back Hawks, staking a supporting role that saw him play 61 regular season games (eight goals, 19 points, 111 penalty minutes) and six playoff matches. To aid his style of play and in concession to the fact that offensive skills were not his forte, Van Impe used one of the widest and heaviest sticks in the NHL. It was joked that the lumber was more boat paddle than hockey stick

Left unprotected in the NHL's expansion draft in 1967, van Impe was selected by the Flyers with the 16th overall pick (the fourth of the six picks in the third round). Along with the likes of Bernie Parent, Doug Favell, Joe Watson and Gary Dornhoefer, the former Chicago defenseman proved to be an astute selection by Flyers general manager Bud Poile and player personnel director, Marcel Pelletier.

Over the next eight-plus seasons, Van Impe was one of the team's most reliable defenders and respected team leaders along with former Bruins defenseman Watson. Oddly enough, both players were initially unhappy to have to start over in Philadelphia and unhappy with their contract offers. Together, they staged a brief holdout before being chastised by Poile into returning. Thereafter, Van Impe and Watson were backbone players on the roster until the mid-1970s.

The more physical of the two Flyers' Hall of Fame defensemen, Van Impe was the one who excelled at "clearing the porch" near the net and playing with more of a mean streak. Both Van Impe and Watson were fearless shot blockers and both players hated to lose even more than they craved to win.

The Flyers won the Western Division in their inaugural 1967-68 season. The next year, after the departure of Lou Angotti via trade, Van Impe became the Flyers' captain. He continued to forge the team's identity with both his physical and mental toughness.

In one game against the Seals, a rising shot by California defenseman Wayne Muloin struck Van Impe directly in the mouth. Van Impe, who lost six teeth and received 50 stitches (35 to close deep lacerations on his lips and 15 more in his tongue), returned to finished the game.

Midway through the 1972-73 season, on January 17, 1973, Van Impe ceded the captaincy to burgeoning superstar center Bobby Clarke. The Flin Flon, Manitoba native was the NHL's youngest captain at the time but was ready to assume the mantle. A born leader, Clarke became one of the top captains in NHL history. In the meantime, Van Impe remained a vital part of the leadership group in the locker room.

Although he was now getting up in years, Van Impe remained a mainstay on defense as the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1973-74 and 1974-75. By that point, Van Impe was one of three original Flyers who had been with the team for its entire existence. Even Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender had been traded before returning a couple years later.

On January 11, 1976, the Flyers played Russia's vaunted Red Army team (CSKA) at the Spectrum. In the first period of a still-scoreless game, Van Impe exited the penalty box after serving a hooking penalty. Catching star Russian forward Valeri Kharlamov with his head down, van Impe arrived in an ill-humor and sent Kharlamov sprawling to the ice with a heavy body-check.

Claiming that Van Impe elbowed Kharlamov, Red Army coach Konstantin Loktev demanded a penalty. When none was forthcoming, Loktev pulled his players from the ice and the CSKA team returned to the dressing room. After a delay of roughly 15 minutes, the Soviet team returned to finish the game.

The Flyers went on to win, 4-1.

Late in the 1975-76 season, the Flyers traded the soon-to-be 36-year-old defenseman and backup goaltender Bobby Taylor to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a deal that sent backup goaltender Gary Inness, a 1977 eighth-round draft choice (goaltender Pete Peeters), a 1977 ninth-round pick (Tom Bauer), a 1977 10th-round pick (Rob Nicholson) and a 1977 11th-round pick (Jim Trainor) to Philadelphia.

Over the remainder of the 1975-76 season and stretching into the next season, Van Impe played a combined 22 games before retiring. Overall, Van Impe played 700 NHL regular season games (27 goals, 126 assists, 153 points, 1,025 penalty minutes) and 66 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs (one goal,12 assists, 13 points, 131 penalty minutes). As a Flyer, he played 617 games in the regular season, posting 19 goals, 107 assists, 126 points and 892 penalty minutes. For his Flyers playoff career, he appeared in 57 games, scoring one goal and adding 11 assists for 12 points, while compiling 121 penalty minutes.

After retiring as a player, Van Impe served for a time as a Flyers broadcast analyst. He later focused on business interests and his personal life. 

A second cousin, Darren Van Impe, later played in the NHL. Thirty-three years younger than the former Flyer, Darren Van Impe played 411 games in the NHL in the 1990s to 2000s. As fellow no-frills defensive defensemen with a physical edge, their playing styles were fairly similar.