When you think of iconic goaltenders in Philadelphia Flyers history, the first name that should come to mind, no matter your age, is Bernie Parent. However, there was a time where Philadelphia was not entirely sure what they had in the netminder and decided to trade him away for offensive assistance. Here is that story.
Parent started his journey in the National Hockey League with the Boston Bruins in the 1965-66 season, playing in 39 games. After splitting time between the Bruins and their farm club the following season, he was left unprotected in the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft. It was there where Philadelphia picked him up to split time between the pipes with Doug Favell.
In his first season with the Flyers, recording a 2.48 goals against average and four shutouts in 38 games. With a little help from Favell’s inconsistent play and struggles to remain healthy, Parent transformed into Philadelphia’s starting netminder the next two seasons, playing in 58 and 62 games.
Although Parent was trending upwards, the Flyers had other needs to address including more offensive production. As a result, Philadelphia sent Parent and a second-round pick (Rick Kehoe) in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Bruce Gamble and a first-round selection (Pierre Plante). This transaction was a part of a three-team day that also involved Boston. From the Bruins, the Flyers received Rick MacLeish and Danny Schock. Boston would get Mike Walton from Toronto.
Parent’s time with Toronto was all about development and progression. Playing behind the great Jacques Plante, he became a more consistent and technically-sound goalie. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs and Parent could not agree on a contract for the 1972-73 season, leading Parent to sign a contract with the Miami Screaming Eagles of the new World Hockey Association. With this move, he became the first player to jump from the NHL to the WHA. The Screaming Eagles never became a WHA franchise, however, and Parent became a member of the Philadelphia Blazers.
During the 1973 WHA playoffs, Parent left the Blazers over a contract dispute. He wanted to come back to the NHL but was unwilling to return to the Maple Leafs. As a result, his rights were traded back to Philadelphia in exchange for Favell and a first-round draft pick.
Of course, we all know what happened the next two years for the city of Philadelphia. The Flyers won consecutive Stanley Cup Championships in 1974 and 1975. It is safe to say that Parent’s play in net was a significant factor to Philadelphia’s success. The 1973-1974 season proved to be the best season of his career, playing in 73 games and posting an astounding 1.89 goals against average. The following season would turn out to be the second-best of Parent’s tenure in the NHL, playing 68 games and allowing just 2.03 goals per contest. Throughout those two miraculous seasons, Parent also shutout his opponents on 24 occasions.
Another critical piece to the Flyers consecutive Stanley Cups was MacLeish, who was acquired in the original Parent trade with Toronto and Boston. MacLeish recorded 77 and 79 points in the championship-winning seasons and went on to have an incredible career with the orange and black.
It is hard to establish an argument towards why this trade did not work out swimmingly for the Flyers. Yes, the team surrendered a valuable asset in net but essentially got him back to the best years of his career. Also, the received an iconic member of their franchise in MacLeish.