Sometimes called "the Mark Messier of Europe" during an illustrious career in international hockey and the Czech Extraliga, center Jiri Dopita was highly sought by National Hockey League clubs for many years. He annually rebuffed contract offers from his NHL rights holders, which included the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Florida Panthers.
Finally, in the summer of 2001, the 32-year-old Dopita agreed to come to the NHL after the Flyers acquired his rights from Florida. Dopita decided to give the NHL a try after his Czech team, six-time defending champions HC Vsetin, had encountered financial problems and because his longtime Vsetin teammate and fellow nation team player Roman Cechmanek had made a successful transition to the NHL the previous season.
Dopita's NHL career was destined to disappoint. However, it was not without some highlights that showed hints of the various reasons why he was considered an iconic player in his home country. For example, in a Nov. 17, 2001 game against the New Jersey Devils, Dopita won 14 of 16 faceoffs in a 3-1 Flyers win.
Offensively, the best night of Dopita's one-season stay with the Flyers came on January 8, 2002.
On that night, he racked up four goals (on four shots) and recorded one assist as the Flyers downed the visiting Atlanta Thrashers, 7-4. John LeClair, Ruslan Fedotenko and Justin Williams scored the other Philadelphia goals. No Flyers player has had a four-goal game since Dopita accomplished the feat.
Playing mostly a third-line role behind Jeremy Roenick and Keith Primeau, Dopita recorded 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in a season limited to 52 games by injuries to both knees and his neck. After the season, the Flyers traded Dopita to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2003 third-round pick (defenseman Alexandre Picard) and a conditional 2004 fifth-rounder (condition was not met).
January 8: Through the Years
- 1970: Gary Dornhoefer compiles a hat trick and Bernie Parent makes 36 saves as the Flyers down the visiting Los Angeles Kings, 4-1. Andre Lacroix also scores for Philly.
- 1973: The Flyers sign general manager Keith Allen to a three-year contract extension as team GM and vice president.
- 1977: Don "Big Bird" Saleski notches two goals as the Flyers trounce the visiting Los Angeles Kings, 6-1. Mel Bridgman, Gary Dornhoefer, Bobby Clarke and Ross Lonsberry notch one goal apiece.
- 1983: Darryl Sittler collects a hat trick and an assist while Bill Barber and Ilkka Sinisalo both rack up respective five-point nights (two goals, three assists apiece) in a 7-4 road win over the Hartford Whalers.
- 1984: The second Flyers stint of Rick MacLeish's career comes to an end. The team trades him to the Detroit Red Wings for future considerations.
- 1985: Pelle Lindbergh makes 30 saves, including 13 in the third period, to spur te Flyers to a 5-3 road win over the Vancouver Canucks. Todd Bergen scores the first and second goals of his brief -- and bizarre -- NHL career. Brian Propp notches his 22nd goal of the season and Dave Poulin puts the game away with an empty-net goal to cap a three-point game (one goal, two assists).
- 1998: The Flyers erase three separate one-goal deficits to skate off with a 3-3 road tie against the Carolina Hurricanes. John LeClair scores the game-tying goal. Chris Gratton and Janne Niinimaa tallied earlier in the game.
- 1999: The Flyers trade AHL tough guy Frank "the Animal" Bialowas to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for fellow enforcer Dennis Bonvie.
- 2000: The Flyers earn a 6-2 road win over the Penguins spurred by three goals from the second line trio of Mikael Renberg (one goal, two assists), Mark Recch (one goal, two assists) and Rod Brind'Amour (one goal. two assists). Keith Jones and Daymond Langkow also score for Philly.
- 2009: Martin Biron is excellent in turning back 27 of 28 shots as the Flyers down the visiting Minnesota Wild, 3-1. Scott Hartnell, Mike Knuble and Scottie Upshall provide the offense.
- 2014: The Flyers hold off the visiting Montreal Canadiens, 3-1. Steve Mason faces just 20 shots for the game. Sean Couturier, Zac Rinaldo (first goal of the season) and rookie Michael Raffl (third NHL goal) provide the goal support.
- 2015: Overcoming a pair of one-goal deficits, the Flyers come back to earn a 3-2 overtime home win over the Washington Capitals. Jakub Voracek's power play goal in OT caps the victory.