While scrolling through the archives of acquisitions from the Philadelphia Flyers past, it may be challenging to stumble upon a deal that will produce a smile on your face more than the one that took place on February 9, 1995. For any seasoned Flyers fan, this date is etched into their brains as it marks the day Philadelphia obtained two of the most celebrated players to ever pull the orange and black sweater over their heads.
In a lockout season on 1994-95, the Montreal Canadiens saw themselves going through an uncharacteristic rough patch. Attempting to save the sinking ship before things got out of control, the Habs made a deal that would send John LeClair, Eric Desjardins, and Gilbert Dionne to the City of Brotherly Love in exchange for Mark Recchi and a third-round pick in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft (Martin Hohenberger). Unfortunately, the move did little to help the Habs effort, and the team finished in sixth place of the Northeast Division.
Upon LeClair’s arrival to Philadelphia, he established instant chemistry with new linemate Eric Lindros and immediately became one of the most feared goal-scorers in the National Hockey League. In the remaining 37 games in the shortened 1994-95 season, he recorded 25 goals with the Flyers. Also, The left-winger on the dreaded “Legion of Doom” line became the first American-born player in the NHL to post three consecutive 50-goal seasons and was only the second Flyer to do so (Tim Kerr being the other). After his three years of 50 or more goals, LeClair tallied 40-plus goals in two consecutive seasons. The Vermont native spent ten years in Philadelphia, recording 333 regular season goals and 35 more in the postseason, placing among the ten best goal-scorers in Flyers history.
Desjardins was brought to Philadelphia to solidify the Flyers blueline, and he did just that. He played the rest of his career with the orange and black, winning seven Barry Ashbee Trophies, awarded to the Flyers best defenseman. Desjardin also ranks second amongst Flyers defenseman in points with 396, only behind Mark Howe.
Recchi had some strong years with the Canadiens. However, none were as impressive as his 123-point effort for the Flyers in 1992-93. He was reacquired by Philadelphia during the 1998-99 season and once again become one of the team’s most productive scorers. In total, Recchi would ice his skates for the Flyers in 602 contests, scoring 232 goals and adding 395 assists.
As for the other two pieces of the transaction, Dionne and Hohenberger, there is not much to say about either. Dionne only saw action in 22 games for the Flyers, posting seven assists. Hohenberger, unfortunately, couldn’t make it to the big show and never played a game in the NHL.
The trade between Flyers and Canadiens in February of 1995 is one of the most important acquisitions made by Philadelphia in the history of their franchise. They received two eventual members of the team’s hall of fame and eventually brought back their only significant loss in the deal a few years later.
Every organization’s trade history has its fair share of victories and defeats. Indeed, this acquisition is one of the Flyers most solid wins.