Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Brind'Amour, Watson to make Flyers HOF; Timonen also on deck

The 24th and 25th members of the Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame will be enshrined next season, with one obvious name yet to be recognized and a dark-horse candidate from the club's initial glory years set to take his place with the greats.

Rod Brind'Amour and Jimmy Watson will be feted in separate ceremonies, with the former's night on Nov. 23 against Carolina and the latter on Feb. 29 when Calgary comes to town.

“Jimmy Watson and Rod Brind’Amour are two players who played the game in a way that truly epitomized Philadelphia Flyers hockey," said Flyers Chairman Ed Snider. "They were hard-working team leaders both on and off the ice who played with a lot of intelligence, grit, and determination. This is a very deserving honor for both of them, and I couldn’t be happier to welcome these outstanding men into the Flyers Hall of Fame."

Brind’Amour was acquired from the St. Louis Blues with Dan Quinn in exchange for Ron Sutter and Murray Baron on September 22, 1991 -- an absolute steal and perhaps then-GM Russ Farwell's best deal during his four seasons as Flyers GM couched between two Bob Clarke eras. He spent parts of nine seasons with the Orange and Black from 1991-2000, which included a career-high 97-point season in 1993-94 and seasons of 87 points in 1995-96 and 86 points in 1992-93.

The burly and fitness-dedicated Canadian also served as temporary captain when Eric Lindros was sidelined due to a Grade III concussion late in the 1997-98 season and was more often than not wearing the "A" for alternate captaincy throughout his tenure here. Unfortunately, the end of his time in Philadelphia was shrouded in vicious rumors regarding his wife and Lindros, and the man for whom he was dealt in January of 2000 -- Keith Primeau -- saw his career end much earlier than anticipated.

“It was a tremendous honor and privilege to play as long as I did for one of the best franchises in all of sports,” said Brind’Amour. “To be recognized in this way is hard to put into words but something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I thank the Flyers organization for this tremendous honor.”

In 633 career games with the Flyers, Brind’Amour recorded 235 goals and 366 assists for 601 points. He currently places ninth overall and fourth among centers in points; 10th overall and fourth among centers in goals; seventh overall and fourth among centers in assists; 12th overall and third among centers in games played; eighth overall in shorthanded goals (18); and ninth overall in power play goals (75).

Watson played his entire NHL career here, 613 games over parts of 10 seasons from 1973 until 1982.
Drafted 39th overall in 1972, he joined his brother Joe, an original Flyer.

“I am absolutely thrilled and humbled by the whole thing,” said Watson. “This is a tremendous honor and I am very excited to be a part of the Flyers Hall of Fame. Gosh, it is amazing how it all evolved but here we are and I am extremely proud to be getting inducted. What a wonderful honor.”

Watson went on to play on both Flyers championship teams and most importantly became a five-time NHL All-Star with quiet, dedicated play.

He finished his injury-shortened career with 38 goals and 148 assists for 186 points and a plus-295 rating, including a plus-65 season in 1975-76 and a plus-53 season in 1979-80. The career plus-minus total is the fifth-best in Flyers history. 186 points currently rank 10th among defensemen in the club record books, while the Delaware County resident sits 15th overall in team history in games played and fifth among blueliners.

From the inception of the hall in the Spring of 1988 through April of 1993, multiple honorees were celebrated within a season and on one night only.

Beginning in 1994 and lasting through a lag in the early part of the last decade, only one person was selected for induction at a time. Last season, with the dual enshrinements of Eric Lindros and John LeClair along with a separate night for Eric Desjardins, the franchise is moving towards bulk celebrations.

Despite his exclusion from the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class announced on Monday, it shouldn't be a stretch to think Mark Recchi will be next up for consideration.

And if one of the Watson brothers has made it, there should be room for a pair of key cogs in the wheels of two Stanley Cup victories: the late Ross Lonsberry -- an expert checker, short-handed threat who provided scoring punch -- and Bob "Hound" Kelly -- who was the heart and soul if not the motor which kept the club's work ethic in action.

Not to be outdone, the Flyers will also have Kimmo Timonen return when the defending-champion Chicago Blackhawks come to Philly on Oct. 14. The 40-year-old Finn retired mid-month having won his elusive Stanley Cup, and departed the city in late February after eight years ranking third in points (270) and 10th in games (519).
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