Flyers are set to officially retire Mark Howe's number 2 tonight, when
the team hosts the Detroit Red Wings, Howe's other NHL home. As we've
discussed in previous posts on Howe, while he is certainly deserving, it
has seemed somewhat odd for so much time to pass between Howe's last
wearing the 2 here and the actual retirement of the number. Two decades
have passed since Howe was a Flyer, and nine players have worn the
number 2 for the Orange & Black in that time.
Can you name them all? [plus much more on Howe's honor below]
I couldn't, but Bill Meltzer put a list together.
Malakhov, Adam Burt, Kerry Huffman, Lukas Krajicek, Frantisek Kucera,
When Howe was being inducted into the Hockey
Hall of Fame and musings over his number retirement became reality, I
tried to think of as many former 2's as possible, but came up with only
Yushkevich, Hatch, Weinrich (yellow visor ftw), and Krajicek off the top
of my head. My bad, Kerry Huffman.
I'm not sure why the number wasn't sooner deemed untouchable. I
suppose it's because Howe wasn't a Cup-winning Flyer, nor yet a Hall of
Famer, though his play was certainly good enough to be both. His call to
the Hall was ultimately the difference in the eyes of the franchise, as
the number retirement was announced nearly simultaneous to
the induction, and Ed Snider said as much. Per Tim Panaccio in November:
said. “I don’t want to say one thing one way or another, but I feel that
anybody who was in the Hall of Fame that was a Philadelphia Flyer,
their number should be retired.”
Howe's Flyers credentials haven't changed, and maybe that
makes him all the more worthy, 20 years later. At the time he left the
Flyers for Detroit, Howe was the best defenseman the team ever had.
Through a handful of reboots and countless players taking the ice in
south Philadelphia, he still is. While it feels a little "after the
fact," Howe's legacy with the club is perhaps even greater today than it
was then, because we've seen how rare a talent he was.
Tonight, some fans will see a Flyer's number retired for the first
time. Bill Barber's 7 going up in 1990 was the most recent, and that's
now 22 years ago. Others, like me, will for the first time witness the
occasion for a player they've actually seen play (I was alive for the
final years of Clarke and Barber, but not yet cognizant of hockey). All
previous retirees—Bernie Parent, Barry Ashbee, Clarke, and Barber were
Broad Street Bullies. Pelle Lindbergh's 31 has not been worn since his
death, but it is not officially retired.
We'll enjoy seeing the first Flyer of our generation honored in this
way, granting a wish many fans have had since he hung up the skates.