When the National Hockey League awarded a conditional expansion franchise on Feb. 9, 1966 to a Philadelphia-based group of bidders (Philadelphia Hockey Club, Inc.) eventually led by Ed Snider, the new team did not yet have a name.
One night in the spring of 1966, Ed Snider, his wife, his sister Phyllis and her husband Earl Foreman (who was one of the original part-owners of the team) spent an evening in Manhattan to have dinner and see a Broadway show. On the way back from the play, they decided to stop for some dessert at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant on the New Jersey Turnpike.
It was there where Phyllis suggested the new team be called “the Flyers.” Everyone liked the idea. The organization then held a public Name the Team Contest”, with the winning drawing being selected among those who proposed “Flyers”. The winning entry was submitted by nine-year-old Narberth, PA, resident Alec Stockard.
The iconic “flying P” logo was designed by Sam Ciccone of Philadelphia-based Mel Richman, Incorporated. Organization co-founder Bill Putman selected orange, white and black as the team’s colors; the orange being a homage to his alma mater’s University of Texas Longhorns.
On May 8, 1967, a little less than a month before the NHL Expansion Draft, the Flyers purchased the American Hockey League’s Quebec Aces to be their first AHL farm team. In the 1967 Expansion Draft on June 6, the Flyers selected Boston Bruins goaltending prospects Bernie Parent and Doug Favell with their first-round and second-round picks. Among the 20 picks the Flyers made at the Expansion Draft, seven were made from Boston.
Icing a defensively sound but offensively limited squad, the Flyers won the newly created Western Division in their inaugural season. Philadelphia also beat each of the Original Six teams (Montreal, Boston, New York Rangers, Toronto, Chicago and Detroit) at least once apiece.
The Flyers not only won their division in their first season, but eventually became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup seven years later in 1974.
Buoyed by the Hall of Fame duo of captain Bobby Clarke and goaltender Bernie Parent, as well as coach Fred Shero, the Flyers repeated as champions in 1975.
After being the only NHL team to beat the Soviet Red Army team in 1976, the Flyers returned to the Finals for the third consecutive season before losing the Montreal Canadiens.
The Flyers continued to make the playoffs in each of the years following their three cup runs but didn’t make it back to the Finals until a new decade began.
The Flyers started the decade by amassing the longest unbeaten streak in North American professional sports, by going 35 straight games without a loss, a record that still stands today. That team, coached by Pat Quinn, went on to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, the fourth time in seven seasons, but lost a controversial championship series to the New York Islanders.
The core of that Flyers team, which reach those four championships, grew older over the first part of the decade, and the team decided to go in a new direction by 1984. Clarke retired and became general manager and constructed a team of young talent – the youngest in the NHL at the time – and the Flyers dominated the Wales Conference, returning to the Finals for a fifth time in 1985 under the guidance of rookie coach Mike Keenan. Led by Vezina-winning goalie Pelle Lindbergh, the Flyers lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the Finals.
Later that year, Lindbergh was killed in a car accident, and the Flyers ran out of emotional will in the first round of the playoffs. They were re-energized in 1986-87 when rookie goalie Ron Hextall rose to prominence. Led by an offense rife with talent such as Tim Kerr, Rick Tocchet and Brian Propp , the Flyers again reached the Finals in 1987, only to lose to the Oilers in a seven-game series that many have argued was the greatest Stanley Cup Final in NHL history. Hextall won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
Like the decade before, the Flyers made a couple more postseason appearances before the 80s expired, but the team needed an overhaul before the next great era in franchise history commenced.
The first part of the decade was the worst in team history, as the Flyers missed the playoffs for a record five consecutive seasons, but during that time, they traded for Eric Lindros, who became the face of the franchise and helped turn the team into a winner again.
In the lockout-shortened 1995 season, the Flyers traded for John LeClair and put him on a line with Lindros and right-wing Mikael Renberg. Dubbed the “Legion of Doom” they became the most prolific scoring line in hockey, guiding the Flyers to the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals. Lindros won the Hart Trophy as League MVP and the team, coached by Terry Murray, finally made it back to the Finals in 1997 for the seventh time in team history, only to lose to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Lindros Era fizzled out after that Finals appearance, but the team still was relevant, reaching the playoffs every season heading into the next decade.
The last 13 years have been mostly successful for the Flyers. The highlights include a season in 2003-04 when the veteran group led by Jeremy Roenick, Mark Recchi, Leclair and Eric Desjardins reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals under the tutelage of coach Ken Hitchcock before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
After a lockout cancelled the following season, the Flyers made the playoffs in 2005-06, but then suffered the worst season in franchise history in 2006-07, missing the playoffs. The organization rebounded quickly, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2007-08 before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Two years later, Peter Laviolette took over as coach and with Chris Pronger leading the way on defense and Simon Gagne, Danny Briere, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter on offense, the Flyers made ta dramatic run he Cup Finals for the eighth time in 42 seasons. On the way, the Flyers overcame a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins 4-3, including coming from behind 3-0 in Game 7 in Boston to win the Game 4-3 as well. They were just the third team in NHL history and fourth in professional sports history to accomplish the feat. The Flyers eventually lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Finals.
The Flyers have again re-tooled since and although they missed the playoffs in 2013, are excited about a future with such young stars as captain Claude Giroux as well as players like Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Luke Schenn on defense.