You’ll remember their names. You have to. Simon Gagne, Michael Leighton, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Dan Carcillo, Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Danny Briere, James Van Riemsdyk, Scott Hartnell and coach Peter Laviolette, and we can go on and on. You’ll remember what they did, and how they did it. You have to. You have to because now they belong to the ages, as part of the greatest comeback in Philadelphia sports history.
A team that got a coach fired, went through three goalies–and had one come back, at times had dubious leadership and needed a shootout to get into the playoffs now belongs in Philadelphia sports lore as the only team in the city’s sometimes forlorn past to ever rebound from a 3-0 deficit. The Flyers now join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders, 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only teams in North American pro sports to ever battle back from 3-0 deficits to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
Count the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers among that select group. Who would’ve thought … ?
Here, however, is what places the Flyers above all others–the Flyers fought back in Game 7 as they did the series, rebounding from a first-period 3-0 hole to score four unanswered goals and become Philadelphia’s Kings of the Impossible. The Islanders won their clinching Game 7 1-0; the Maple Leafs faced a 1-0 deficit in their Game 7 victory against Detroit before scoring three to remain the only pro sports franchise to win a world championship after being down 3-0; and the Red Sox simply thumped the Yankees in the 2004 American League championship series, easily winning their Game 7, 10-3. So what the Flyers did in capturing history in this city–and becoming a part of pro sports history was greater than any of their three predecessors.
It started with a simple challenge by Laviolette during the first-period timeout and the scoreboard saying the Flyers had no chance, down 3-nil.
“The message was to score just one goal,” Laviolette said. “Guys fought. I can tell you about this team, there’s the right people in that locker room to win a game like today. There’s the right people in that locker room to come back from 3-0. I’m really proud of the players and the way they played, proud of the organization. It’s tough out there. There is a lot of pressure in Game 7, Game 7s are made for men, real men. Our guys proved to be real men today.”
This will mark the first time in NHL history where a No. 7 seed, the Flyers, will take on a No. 8 seed, the Montreal Canadiens, in the Eastern Conference finals.
“This is the top of the bar right here, we have a lot of veteran guys who love playing together and we showed a lot of character in doing this,” Leighton said. “To be down 3-0 in the series to battle back, to be down 3-0 in the game says a lot about this team.”
The amazing journey even struck an emotional cord with Flyers president Ed Snider. “This is a fantastic achievement in every single way you can imagine; these guys came from not only 3-0, but they came back from 3-0 in their barn,” said an ecstatic Snider.
The key was the Van Riemsdyk goal, with 2:49 left in the first period. It was an ugly goal, a dribbler, but it got the Flyers going and the Bruins wondering–what more can they do to quell these fiesty bunch? The Gagne goal will always be remembered. He’s shown guts, poise, true leadership and amazing character. Gagne has typified this team’s heart and desire to win.
After the final seconds ticked away in the historic victory, a chant started to build from the 11,000 that were watching the game on the large jumbotron at the Wachovia Center, “Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup.”
Anyone out there ready to doubt these guys now?