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TODAY IN FLYERS HISTORY: February 25

The Legion of Doom Emerges: February 25, 1995

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

Later in the same month the Flyers and Montreal Canadiens made a blockbuster February 9th trade that sent Mark Recchi to the Habs in exchange for John LeClair, Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne, the two teams faced off at the Forum on February 25, 1995.

The match was no contest. The Flyers steamrolled the Canadiens, 7-0.

Beginning a long run of torturing his former team, LeClair struck for a hat trick in his first game against the Canadiens. The Flyers new top line of Lindros (one assist, fight with Lyle Odelein) centering Mikael Renberg (two assists) and LeClair shows off its remarkable chemistry. The line could easily have generated more than the three goals it produced.

In fact, the new trio so dominant that Flyers fourth-line forward Jim Montgomery (himself a former Canadiens player who recently joined the Flyers in a separate transaction) commented afterwards, "They looked like the Legion of Doom out there."

The name was a reference to the famous pro wrestling Road Warriors tag team, also called the Legion of Doom, whose in-ring persona was one of being fearsome and muscular brawlers who mercilessly thrashed their helpless opponents. Coincidentally, Road Warrior Animal (the ring name of the real-life Joe Laurinaitis), is a Philadelphia native. The Legion of Doom tag team, originally a stable of villainous wrestlers managed in Georgia by Paul Ellering, got its own name from the cartoon supervillains who rivaled the Super Friends alliance of DC Comics superheroes.

Legendary Flyers play-by-play announcer Gene Hart popularized the "Legion of Doom" nickname by frequently referring to the line of Lindros, LeClair and Renberg by that moniker. In subsequent weeks, a variety of other nicknames were suggested by fans and the media, including "Bob's Big Boys," (in reference to Flyers' general manager Bob Clarke's acquisition of LeClair) the "Doom, Gloom and Zoom Line," "the JEM [John, Eric, Mikael] Line" and even "The Crazy Apes" (a pun on the former "Crazy Eights" line of Lindros, Recchi and Brent Fedyk).

Nevertheless, the Legion of Doom sobriquet was the one that stuck locally. Soon, the nickname spread to the newspapers and to national hockey broadcasts.

Whatever they were called, the LeClair-Lindros-Renberg combination appeared practically unstoppable. All three players were unselfish with the puck and had soft hands to go along with their strength down low. Each player seemed to know where the other two were at all times.

Once they caught the opponent in their deadly forechecking and cycling game, there was little the defense could do but take a penalty or ice the puck. Lindros presented a deadly combination of freight-train force and subtle finesse, with a sizeable mean streak. LeClair was almost impossible to take off the puck or move from in front of the net and also possessed a rocket of a slap shot. Renberg's speed on the off-wing and willingness to cover up high when the defense pinched added yet another dimension to the assault. 

With Desjardins anchoring a suddenly improved blue line and Ron Hextall providing an upgrade in goal during the first season of his second playing stint with the Flyers, the Legion of Doom carried the attack along with second-line center Rod Brind'Amour. The assault did not let up for the rest of the season. The Flyers steadily rose in the standings, winning the division and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. After missing the playoffs for five straight years, the Flyers fell just two wins shy of reaching the 1995 Stanley Cup Final.

 

February 25: Through the Years

  • 1973: The Flyers rout the host California Seals, 7-0, in Oakland. Young defenseman Tom Bladon scores a pair of goals and Bobby Clarke hits the 30-goal milestone for the season, while Doug Favell posts a 31-save shutout.

 

  • 1978: Philadelphia skates to a workmanlike 3-1 road win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a scoreless first period, defenseman Bob Dailey blasts home his 17th goal of the season. Bill Barber and Rick MacLeish (empty net) add some valuable third-period insurance. Rookie goaltender Rick St. Croix (23 saves) earns his first NHL victory for the Flyers.

 

  • 1984: The goals come early and often, and playing any semblance defense seems strictly optional, as the Flyers drop a wild 9-7 road decision to the Hartford Whalers. In the first period alone, the opposing teams combine for nine goals (five for Hartford, four for Philadelphia) and 41 shots (24 for Hartford and 17 for the Flyers). In a losing cause, Tim Kerr scores his 40th goal of the season, while ex-Whaler player Mark Howe collects two goals and an assist, Len Hachborn compiles three assists and is named the game's third star, and even rookie enforcer Dave Brown notches a goal and an assist for the first two points of his NHL career. The game also features numerous fights. Brown completes a Gordie Howe hat trick with a bout against Torrie Robertson in the opening minute of the second period. Other fights in the game pit Daryl Stanley against Randy Pierce, ex-Whaler Ray Allison against unlikely combatant Doug Sulliman, and Glen Cochrane against Sylvain Turgeon with Ed Hospodar (later a Flyer) jumping in as the third man and being ejected on an automatic game misconduct. The lopsided Cochrane fight with Turgeon started moments after Whalers defenseman Marty Howe, Mark's brother, initiated a knee-on-knee hit on Rich Sutter.

 

  • 1996: In a battle of two of the top teams in the NHL, the Flyers skate to a hard-fought 3-2 win at the Spectrum over the Chicago Blackhawks. Legion of Doom linemates Eric Lindros (39th goal of the season, two assists) and John LeClair (goal) lead the way. Second-stint Flyers forward Dan Quinn substitutes for the injured Mikael Renberg and records two assists. Eric Desjardins also records two assists, while defensive defenseman Kjell Samuelsson scores the Flyers' final goal of the game. The Flyers' domination of the first period, outshooting the Blackhawks by a 17-5 mark, is one of their best 20-minute segments of the season. Jeremy Roenick and Denis Savard score for Chicago in a losing cause.

 

  • 2003: Roman Cechmanek earns the 18th shutout of his Flyers career, stopping 25 shots as the visiting Flyers down the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-0. Kim Johnsson and Marty Murray provide the goal support.

 

  • 2008: The Flyers reacquire Vaclav Prospal -- now a decade removed from his first stint with the team -- as rental player for the stretch drive and playoffs. In return, the Flyers trade defenseman Alexandre Picard and a 2009 second-round pick (Richard Panik) to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

 

  • 2009: In a 2-0 home win over the Los Angeles Kings, Martin Biron turns back all 34 shots he sees to notch his eighth career shutout as a Flyer. Jeff Carter's late second period tally stands as the lone goal of the game until Simon Gagne scores into an empty net with less than one second remaining on the third-period clock.

 

  • 2012: A pair of regulation goals by Scott Hartnell and a shootout-winning tally by rookie forward Matt Read springboard the Flyers to a 5-4 road shootout win over the Calgary Flames.

 

  • 2016: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's early third period goal is the winner in a 3-2 home win over the Minnesota Wild. Michal Neuvirth stops 24 of 26 shots to earn the victory.

 

February 25: Flyers Birthday

  • Defenseman Jamie Fritsch, who played one game for the Flyers in April 2009, was born on February 25, 1985 in Odenton, Maryland.

 

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