In a deal that was locally unpopular at the time it is made but would ultimately pay enormous dividends for the Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia made a three-way trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins on January 31, 1971. The Flyers sent goaltender Bernie Parent and a 1971 second-round draft pick (Rick Kehoe) to Toronto in exchange for goaltender Bruce Gamble, forward Mike Walton and a 1971 first-round draft pick (Pierre Plante). The Flyers then immediately flipped Walton to the Bruins for young forwards Rick MacLeish and Danny Schock.
MacLeish went on to enjoy NHL stardom in Philadelphia. In 1972-73, he became the first player in Flyers franchise history to score 50 goals and 100 points. The following year, he scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in the Flyers' series-clinching 1-0 win over Boston. In all, Flyers Hall of Famer MacLeish enjoyed seven seasons with 31+ goals and two seasons with 49+ goals for Philadelphia, along with two Stanley Cup rings and four trips to the Finals.
Meanwhile, future Hockey Hall of Fame honoree Parent would leave the Flyers as a good NHL goalie and return to the team in 1973 ready to assume the mantle of becoming one of the sport's all-time greats. Some of his maturation as a player was owed to playing as teammates in Toronto with the legendary Jacques Plante. Nearing the end of his own Hall of Fame playing career, Plante took Parent under his wing in Toronto and helped him with some of the mental aspects of the game. Two straight Vezina Trophies, Conn Smythe Trophies and Stanley Cup celebrations followed upon Parent's return to the Flyers.
January 31: Through the Years
- 1971: In the evening following the Flyers' blockbuster three-way trade that sent Bernie Parent to Toronto and brought prospect Rick MacLeish and journeyman goalie Bruce Gamble to Philadelphia, the Flyers have a home game at the Spectrum against the Detroit Red Wings. Philly prevails, 3-1. After two scoreless periods, a pair of goals by Gary Dornhoefer and one by Lew Morrison swing the game after Detroit scores first. Winning goalie Doug Favell stops 26 of 27 shots.
- 1980: The Flyers double up the Minnesota North Stars, 4-2, at the Spectrum. Former Flyers forward Al MacAdam scores a pair of goals for Minnesota but three second period Flyers goals (Bobby Clarke, Behn Wilson and Al Hill) and a Bill Barber tally early in the third period are too much for the North Stars to overcome.
- 1985: Pelle Lindbergh flirts with a shutout for two-plus periods as the Flyers defeat the visiting New Jersey Devils, 3-1. First period goals by Ilkka Sinisalo (20th of the season) and enforcer Dave Brown stake Philly to a 2-0 lead. In the third period, New Jersey's Kirk Muller gets the Devils on the board to cut the gap to 2-1. A mere 22 seconds later, Flyers defenseman Thomas Eriksson restores the two-goal cushion.
- 1991: The Flyers defeat the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-2, at the Spectrum. A pair of goals by team captain Ron Sutter and one apiece by rookie Mike Ricci and power forward Scott Mellanby lead the way offensively. Ron Hextall authors 26 saves and also assists on Sutter's second goal, scored early in the third period.
- 2001: In a rematch of an epic playoff series the previous spring, the Flyers handily win a 5-1 game at the Igloo in Pittsburgh. A pair of goals by both Mark Recchi and Keith Primeau (the hero of the five-overtime instant classic in Game 4 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals) give the Flyers an insurmountable lead. Jody Hull adds a backbreaking shorthanded goal. Mario Lemieux scores the lone Pittsburgh goal. The game features numerous first-period fights.
- 2004: The visiting Flyers win a 5-3 regulation decision in Pittsburgh. In one of the best games of the brief Flyers portion of his career, young forward Patrick Sharp has two-thirds of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick (he scores a goal and has a fight). John LeClair, Michal Handzus and Donald Brashear also score.
- 2015: Steve Mason authors a 30-save home shutout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He makes an early first period goal by Michael Del Zotto stand up the rest of the night in a 1-0 victory.