For Lindros, LeClair, Desjardins, Flyers HOF overdue

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For Lindros, LeClair, Desjardins, Flyers HOF overdue

When CSNPhilly.com asked fans several years ago to pick an all-time Flyers roster, we divided it into eras and then pitted each era’s top player against each other by position.

Not surprisingly the three players who will be inducted into the Flyers’ Hall of Fame this coming season were each the No. 1 finisher in their 1990s era: John LeClair as the best left wing, Eric Lindros as the club’s top center and Eric Desjardins as the top defenseman (see story).

Fans also voted LeClair as the all-time No. 1 Flyers left wing ahead of Bill Barber. Lindros was second to Bob Clarke and Desjardins was second to Mark Howe on the blue line.

LeClair, Lindros and Desjardins represented the core base of the Flyers in the mid-1990s into the early 2000s, which makes it all the more fitting that they go into the club’s Hall of Fame in the same season.

Since Desjardins' retirement in 2006, no player has rivaled his speed, smooth skating and strong right-handed shot from the point.

For many Flyers fans, he’s the standard of measurement on the blue line, mostly because more current fans saw him play as a Flyer than Howe, who began his professional career in mid-1970s.

Desjardins was a record seven-time winner of the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the club’s top defenseman with 396 points in 738 career games, second only to Howe (480 points). Desjardins anchored the Flyers' power play from the moment he arrived in the trade that also brought LeClair from Montreal back in 1995.

Lindros and LeClair are forever linked as meat of the famed “Legion of Doom” line with Mikael Renberg that tore up the NHL in the mid- to late-1990s. They combined for 225 goals and 490 points between 1995 and 1997.

Lindros was the ultimate power forward of his generation. His 659 points at center are third all-time as a Flyer in 486 games. Were it not for injury that cost him to miss the equivalent of two-plus seasons in Philadelphia, there’s no telling where those stats would have gone.

Lindros remains among the top 10 all-time Flyers in five categories: goals (290), assists (369), points (659), power-play goals (82) and hat tricks (11).

LeClair, who is among the most popular Flyers ever, had the hardest -- and scariest -- shot from the left circle of any player in this city. It simply had deadly accuracy.

He is third all-time among Flyers left wings with 643 points. His 333 goals rank fifth, and were it not for a debilitating lower back situation (herniated disks and subsequent surgeries) late in his career, there’s no question LeClair would have surpassed Clarke (358) as No. 4 on the goal list and probably No. 3 Tim Kerr (363), as well.

Most fans wonder why Lindros and LeClair were not selected to the Flyers' HOF sooner. A number of reasons probably.

It took the Flyers organization and this city’s fan base a long time to resolve its feelings about Lindros when he refused to play in 2000, sat the season out -- though he suffered from post-concussion syndrome -- then forced a trade to the Rangers in 2001.

It would take nearly a decade before fans throughout hockey realized that Lindros was at the forefront of concussion injuries, treatment and the long-term effect of post-concussion syndrome.

By the time Lindros returned here for the 2012 Winter Classic, people’s opinions changed about him and he was again embraced, even by the club and especially Clarke, his longtime sparring partner off the ice.

LeClair’s story is more complicated because he was released a quarter-way into his final NHL season with Pittsburgh (2006-07) and later declined the opportunity to sign a one-day contract so he could retire as a Flyer.

The idea had been discussed many times, yet when LeClair left the game, he simply blended into the background and never sought any further recognition in hockey or from the Philadelphia community.

Now he’s coming back.

“All three players are among the greatest in the history of the Flyers and are very deserving to join our Hall of Fame,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said.

Indeed, it’s been a long time coming.

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal practices, but won't play vs. Capitals

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal practices, but won't play vs. Capitals

VOORHEES, N.J. — Jordan Weal participated in the Flyers' full practice Tuesday at Skate Zone but will remain out of the lineup against Washington on Wednesday with an apparent concussion.

He was nailed in Edmonton by Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba. The hit in the corner came at 13:57 of the opening period.

Video replays show Gryba sandwiched Weal hard on the boards with Weal striking his head and right shoulder, then falling to the ice. Actually, Gryba hit him earlier in the period as well, but it was the second hit that seemed to go the most damage. 

Weal said both he and trainer Jim McCrossin agreed it was better to not return to the game after the second hit.

“He kind of drove me in pretty good there,” Weal said. “It’s a hockey play, though. Not much you can do.” 

The Flyers are being cautious with the head injury.

Coach Dave Hakstol was vague as to when Weal would re-enter the lineup. Weal had just been called up last week to replace Travis Konecny, who was placed on IR.

“I feel good,” said Weal, who took extra practice on Tuesday. “It definitely has been progressing every day. ... I’m day-to-day and as soon as I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.

“It’s one of those injuries you just have to take your time with. I think when I feel I’m ready to play, I’ll be in.

“It’s frustrating. But it’s part of the game. With these injuries, it’s tougher than if it was, say your finger or your shin or something where you could put ice on it and get it better. You just have to treat it right and get back as quick as I can.”

Gudas’ departure
Defenseman Radko Gudas left early during what was a brief but long-delayed 45-minute practice on Tuesday.

What was noteworthy about Gudas’ departure, however, was that he picked up his gear and headed back to the dressing room while both trainers remained on the bench.

So he wasn’t injured.

Immediate speculation was that he might have been traded. An hour later, general manager Ron Hextall announced Gudas had had a dentist appointment to fix a broken tooth, incurred during the recent road trip.

Needless to say, Gudas’ leaving blew up Twitter with trade rumors.

Lower, lower body
Jake Voracek took a shot below the belt and couldn't stand for a few minutes near the end of practice. He remained in obvious pain in the dressing room and did not talk … as if he could.