Top Players in Flyers’ History: No. 9 John Leclair
March 24, 2010 Leave a comment
If you score two overtime goals in the Stanley Cup Finals, and your team wins the Stanley Cup, you aren’t going to want to leave, right?
Well, John Leclair really didn’t have a choice.
Traded to the Flyers in 1995 along with Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne for Mark Recchi and a third round pick, Leclair’s life was on the rise.
However, let’s start by taking a look at his hockey life before the NHL.
John Clark Leclair was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1987 33rd overall. He graduated from Bellows Free Academy High School, and was one of the most highly touted recruits in the United States when he committed to the University of Vermont. He played there for four years, and then signed with the Canadiens after he graduated.
He scored his first NHL goal less than a week after signing his first pro contract, and scored seven points in ten games in his first season.
His most successful season was the 1992-1993 season in which he scored 44 points in 72 games, but when he was traded to Philadelphia, he had no idea how much his stats were going to jump.
He was immediately paired with a young phenom named Eric Lindros and another player named Mikael Renberg. In his first full season with the Flyers, Leclair scored 51 goals and 97 points, both career highs that still stand for him.
He continued to have three consecutive 50-goal seasons while playing alongside Eric Lindros, the talented, big center who carried the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals against the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, only to be swept in four games.
After the lockout, though, Leclair was more of a liability than a talented player, forcing the Flyers to buy him out to save cap space. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he played a little more than one season before being let go. His career numbers are as follows: 967 games, 406 goals, 413 assists, 819 points, and 501 penalty minutes.
He won the NHL’s plus/minus award in 1997 and 1998, and the Bobby Clarke award as the MVP of the Flyers in 1997 and 1998. He was also named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1995 and 1998, and the second team in 1996, 1997, and 1999. He played in six All-Star games, and won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
He is also the president of the John LeClair Foundation, which awards grants to non-profit Vermont organizations that sponsor programs for children.
LeClair is one of the best players ever to put on a Flyers’ jersey, and unfortunately, was hurt by both the Lindros-Clarke affair and the lockout.
However, he has earned his spot as the ninth best Flyer in team history.
This is the second part of a ten part series. Stay tuned for the rest of the series!
Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com. In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News, he has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him atBergHockey24@gmail.com.