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The Flyers All-American Team

On the nation's birthday, here's a look at the greatest US Born Flyers

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

It did not take the Philadelphia Flyers any time at all to have their first American player. Forward Wayne Hicks, a native of Aberdeen, Washington, was part of the Flyers starting six for the opening shift against the California Seals in the first game in Flyers' franchise history (Oct. 11, 1967). 

Nearly 50 years later, when center Mike Vecchione made his NHL debut with the Flyers on April 4, 2017, he became the 78th American player to appear in a game in franchise history. 

Some of the top players in Flyers franchise history - including two members of the Flyers Hall of Fame - have been Americans. In honor of Independence Day in the United States, here's how an all-time, all-American Flyers roster might look. 

Note: This total includes players with dual citizenship who represented Team USA in international competition but excludes dual citizens who represented Canada or other countries' national teams. For example, Sean Couturier was born in Arizona but raised in New Brunswick and has always represented Team Canada internationally.


John LeClair: The United States Hockey Hall of Fame and Flyers Hall of Fame left winger was born July 5, 1969 in St. Albans, Vermont. LeClair possessed both a rocket of a slap shot and an uncanny ability to collect goals off rebounds and deflections in front of the net.

Jeremy Roenick: One of the best American-born scorers to play in the NHL, the United States Hockey Hall of Famer was born in Boston on January 17, 1970. In three seasons as a Flyer, the skilled and competitive center played through injury to record 67 goals, 106 assists, 173 points and a plus-53 rating over 216 regular season games.

Mike Knuble: Born on the Fourth of July, 1972, Knuble was born in Toronto to American parents who originally hailed from Latvia. He was raised in Kentwood, Michigan near Grand Rapids. His NHL career was unique as one the NHL's ultimate late-bloomers. Knuble scored 228 of his career 278 regular season NHL goals from age 30 onward. As a Flyer, he enjoyed four straight seasons with 24 or more goals, including 34 tallies in 2005-06.

Paul Holmgren: Born on December 2, 1955 in St. Paul, Minnesota, "Homer" holds the unique distinction of being the only person in Flyers franchise history to serve the organization as a player, assistant coach, head coach, assistant general manager, general manager and club president. He is also a Lester Patrick Trophy winner for service to hockey in the United States. 

Tony Amonte: A childhood friend and teammate of Roenick's, United States Hockey Hall of Famer Amonte was born August 2, 1970 in Hingham, Massachusetts. A speedy skater and gifted goal scorer who scored 416 goals and 900 points in the NHL, Amonte was late in his career by the time he arrived in Philadelphia. However, he was still able to contribute 27 goals and 68 points in 93 games as Flyer.

R.J. Umberger: Born May 3, 1982 in Pittsburgh, PA, his best moments as a Flyer came during his 20-goal rookie season in 2005-06 and during a a stellar playoff run for the 2007-08 Flyers when he racked up a staggering eight goals and nine points in the five-game upset of the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Shjon Podein: The left winger on the Flyers tenacious "Minnesota Line" of the mid-to-late 1990s, Podein was born in Rochester, Minnesota, on March 5, 1968. A fan favorite throughout his four-plus seasons with the Flyers, Podein proved to be a valuable two-way role player. 

Joel Otto: The center on the "Minnesota Line" and a perennial Selke Trophy candidate who was twice a finalist for the honor but never won it, Otto was born on Oct. 29, 1961 in Elk River, Minnesota. The strapping and rawhide tough 6-foot-4, 220-pound center spent the final three seasons of his NHL playing career with the Flyers. 

Trent Klatt: The right wing on the "Minnesota Line," Klatt was born on Jan. 30, 1971 in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. Exceptionally strong and tough to separate from the puck, the 6-foot-1, 212-pound forward had a 24-goal, 45-point season for the Flyers in 1996-97.

Paul Ranheim: A solid and reliable two-way player, Ranheim was born Jan. 25, 1966 in St. Louis, Missouri. A three-time 20-plus goal scorer in the early years of his career, Ranheim had become more of a strictly checking-line player and penalty killer by the time he spent two-plus late career seasons with the Flyers. 

Bob Corkum: Big-framed with powerful wrists, Corkum was born on Dec. 18, 1967 in Salisbury, Massachusetts. He was an excellent faceoff man, a tenacious checker and possessed a wrist shot with wicked movement on it. Corkum's stint with the Flyers was short - he played 28 regular season games (11pts, 4g-7a) and 12 playoff games (4pts, 1g-3a)

Tom Gorence: Gorence was born March 11, 1957 in St. Paul, Minnesota and enjoyed a five-season stint with the Flyers. Gorence found success on a line with Mel Bridgman and Bob "the Hound" Kelly on a trio dubbed the "KGB line."



Mark Howe: An inductee in the Hockey Hall of Fame, United States Hockey Hall of Fame, Flyers Hall of Fame and a Lester Patrick Trophy winner for service to hockey in the U.S., Mark Howe was born May 28, 1955 in Detroit. As a member of the Flyers, Howe was a three-time finalist for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman. He is almost universally considered both the best all-around blueliner in franchise history as well as the best offensive-producing one. 

Eric Weinrich: A veteran of 1,157 games, Weinrich was born December 19, 1966 in Roanoke, Virginia but raised in Gardiner, Maine. Many fans recall him for the yellow-tinted visor he sported on his helmet. During the 2001-02 season, the veteran posted 24 points and a plus-27 rating. The next year, he reached the coveted 1,000-game mark in the NHL, and chipped in 20 points with a plus-16 rating.

Derian Hatcher: United States Hockey Hall of Famer Hatcher was born June 4, 1972 in Sterling Heights, Michigan. One of the league's most punishing hitters and intimidating presences at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds. Hatcher played in 1,045 games in the NHL. He was a regular selection for Team USA in international competition. During the Flyers' portion of his career, Hatcher played 203 regular season games (33pts, 9g-24a) with 193 penalty minutes while averaging roughly 23 minutes of ice time per game.

Shayne Gostisbehere: The first Floridan in Flyers history, the fleet-footed and offensive-minded Gostisbehere was born in Margate, FL on April 20, 1993. In 2015-16, he set a new Flyers rookie franchise record with a 15-game point streak (also a new NHL record among rookie defensemen), a new franchise rookie record for goals by a defenseman (17) and his 46 points in 64 games were just three behind Behn Wilson's rookie defenseman franchise record of 49. Gostisbehere won the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the Flyers' top defenseman and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year.

Matt Carle: The first Alaskan in Flyers history, puck-moving defenseman Carle was born September 25, 1984 in Anchorage. Carle was a fixture on the Flyers' blueline, playing a top-four role throughout his stay with the team. For the Flyers portion of Carle's career, the defenseman played 308 regular season games (15 goals, 122 assists, 137 points, cumulative plus-55 rating) and 51 playoff games (three goals, 23 assists, 26 points).

Adam Burt: Not fleet of foot or dynamic with the puck but possessing heart and character in spades, the sturdy 6-foot-2, 205-pound defensive defenseman was born Jan. 15, 1969 in Detroit. With the Flyers, he averaged better than a blocked-shot and a hit per game while playing third-pairing minutes for Roger Neilson and Craig Ramsay.  



Brian Boucher: Playing three separate NHL stints with the Flyers, "Boosh" was born in Woonsocket, RI, on Jan. 2, 1977. Boucher's best NHL season was his rookie year of 1999-2000 when he earned a spot on the NHL All-Rookie Team and took over as the Flyers' starting goaltender from veteran John Vanbiesbrouck. That year, Boucher was stellar in the playoffs and backstopped the Flyers to within one won of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

Robert Esche: Nicknamed "Chico" in punning reference to longtime NHL goalie Glenn "Chico" Resch, Esche was born in Whitesboro, NY, on Jan. 2, 1978. In his first season as a Flyer, Esche appeared in 30 games as the backup to Roman Cechmanek and the duo split the NHL's Jennings Trophy for the lowest goals against average. Esche's best run in Philadelphia, however, came as the starter during the club's 2004 run to within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.

John Vanbiesbrouck: A United States Hockey Hall of Famer and a veteran of 882 regular season games in the NHL, "Beezer" was born on September 4, 1963 in Detroit. He is the NHL's all-time winningest netminder among American goaltenders. He spent two seasons with the Flyers, posting an overall 52-33-24 record, 2.19 goals against average, .904 save percentage and nine shutouts in 112 regular season games.

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