This is a daily column that will run during the duration of the NHL lockout. It is not meant to depress hockey fans, but is rather intended to provide a reminder of some of the more memorable moments in Philadelphia Flyers' history, and act as a much-needed distraction from the ongoing negativity surrounding the lockout for hockey fans. What must not be forgotten during the labor strife is just how great of a game we have been blessed with to enjoy throughout the years.
After going 1-4-1-0 in their first six games on this day, the Flyers have still managed a 13-10-5-0 overall record -- which includes an 8-3-2-0 mark at home -- on December 23rd over the course of franchise history.
Philadelphia has scored 92 goals and allowed 96 to their opponents in 28 December 23rd outings.
Some of the more memorable moments and brief recaps in Flyers history that took place on December 23rd:
1975: Bobby Clarke scored the game-tying goal with 6:41 remaining in the game and Wayne Stephenson stopped 31 of 33 shots as the Flyers and Atlanta Flames skated to a 2-2 draw at the Omni.
The goal extended Clarke's point-scoring streak to eight games, in which he lit the lamp twice and posted 13 points.
Don Saleski opened the scoring 11:21 into the middle stanza, but Atlanta tied it up via a Claude St. Sauveur tally just over four minutes later.
Bill Flett staked the home team to a 2-1 lead 5:36 into the third before Clarke's tying marker late in the session.
Phil Myre made 30 saves for the Flames.
1976: Don Saleski shattered a 1-1 tie with two second period goals and Wayne Stephenson turned away 25 of 27 shots to lead the Flyers to a 5-2 triumph over the Washington Capitals at the Spectrum.
Mel Bridgman added a goal and two helpers, while defensemen Tom Bladon and Andre Dupont (first goal of the season) also scored.
1979: Brian Propp scored twice and Pete Peeters stopped 14 of 16 shots as the Flyers extended their NHL record unbeaten streak to 30 games with a 4-2 victory over the Hartford Whalers at the Spectrum.
Bill Barber (goal and an assist) and Tom Gorence also lit the lamp for Philadelphia, who now sported a flashy 21-0-9 mark in their last 30 contests.
Reggie Leach assisted on two Flyer goals.
Hartford netminder John Garrett made 36 saves in the loss.
1981: Bill Barber posted a pair of goals, Brian Propp and Ken Linseman each notched a goal and three points, and Pete Peeters made 31 saves as the Flyers outscored the Chicago Blackhawks in a wild 7-6 affair at Chicago Stadium.
Trailing 2-0 in the opening period, Linseman and Barber each scored while Philadelphia skated shorthanded to even the score at the first intermission.
Barber scored his second 8:10 into the middle stanza and Bobby Clarke followed with another only 30 seconds later. Propp tallied 1:11 after Clarke to make it a 5-2 lead.
Tom Lysiak cut the lead to 5-3 but Ron Flockhart made it a three-goal lead again just 16 seconds later, and Behn Wilson made it 7-3 with a late second period power play marker.
The Flyers almost choked the lead away, as Reg Kerr, Al Secord (second of the contest), and future-Flyer Doug Crossman all scored to leave a one-goal margin but Chicago could not find the equalizer.
Reggie Leach and Ray Allison added a pair of assists apiece.
1984: Tim Kerr led a seven-goal attack with his fourth career hat trick and Pelle Lindbergh made 27 saves as the Flyers drilled the Washington Capitals, 7-4, at the Spectrum.
Murray Craven added a pair of goals, while Derrick Smith and Ross Fitzpatrick each tallied once. Doug Crossman assisted on three Flyer markers, and Mark Howe, Rick Tocchet, Peter Zezel, and Brian Propp all added two helpers to the winning cause.
The trio of goals gave Kerr 28 for the season in 32 games played.
1987: Dave Poulin notched a pair of goals and three points and Ron Hextall stopped 33 of 36 shots to lead the Flyers to a 5-3 triumph over the Minnesota North Stars at the Spectrum.
Scott Mellanby, Rick Tocchet, and Ilkka Sinisalo (shorthanded) also beat Kari Takko, who allowed five goals on 31 Philly shots. Mark Howe and Pelle Eklund each added a pair of helpers apiece.
1988: Mike Bullard scored the game-winning goal with 47 seconds remaining in regulation and Ron Hextall turned aside 31 of 35 shots as the Flyers defeated the Hartford Whalers by a 5-4 score at the Spectrum. Tim Kerr and Ron Sutter each posted a goal and two assists in the win.
Trailing 2-1 in the latter half of the middle frame, Kerr beat Mike Liut on the power play to tie the game heading into the third period.
Murray Craven and Sutter scored to give Philadelphia a 4-2 lead early in the frame, but goals from Whalers defenders Sylvain Cote and Joel Quenneville knotted the game at 4-4 to set up Bullard's late-game heroics.
Scott Mellanby also scored for the Flyers, and Brian Propp set up two Philly goals.
1989: Ron Sutter scored twice, Mike Bullard added a goal and an assist, and Ken Wregget stopped 31 of 34 shots to lead the Flyers to a 5-3 victory over Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens at the Forum.
Pelle Eklund and Dave Poulin also scored for Philadelphia, while rear guard Jay Wells assisted on two Flyer tallies. Goaltender Wregget also got into the offensive act as he assisted on Bullard's first period marker.
Roy made 23 saves in the loss.
1990: Murray Craven scored twice in the first period -- including a penalty shot goal -- as the Flyers built a 4-0 lead, only to have to settle for an eventual 4-4 tie with the Montreal Canadiens at the Spectrum.
Opening period strikes from Craven (two), Tony Horacek, and Rick Tocchet chased Montreal starter Andre "Red Light" Racicot, but that's all the home team would muster on the scoreboard as Jean-Claude Bergeron snuffed out all 17 Philadelphia shots the rest of the way.
Meanwhile things were busy throughout for Ron Hextall, who finished with 45 saves on 49 Habs offerings -- including a 32-14 margin over the second and third periods.
The visitors got even on a pair of Denis Savard tallies and one each from Shayne Corson and Russ Courtnall, who delievered the game-tying marker with 4:55 remaining in regulation.
The Flyers recorded all three shots in the extra session, but Bergeron would not yield anything as the contests ended in a deadlock.
1995: Rod Brind'Amour's provided the game-tying marker at 7:36 of the third period and Garth Snow turned away 32 of 35 shots in a 3-3 draw with the Hartford Whalers at the Hartford Civic Center.
Sean Burke was perfect over the first two frames as he thwarted all of Philadelphia's 24 shots heading into the third, but goals from Joel Otto and Eric Lindros in the first 4:00 of the stanza knotted the score at 2-2.
Nelson Emerson gave Hartford the lead once again with a power play tally at 6:43, but Brind'Amour tied it up just 53 seconds later.
1997: Eric Desjardins posted a goal and an assist and Ron Hextall stopped 21 of 23 shots to lead the Flyers to a 4-2 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes at the CoreStates Center.
Shjon Podein, Chris Gratton, and Rod Brind'Amour also scored for Philadelphia, who extended their undefeated streak to eight games (6-0-2-0).
1998: Eric Desjardins snapped a 1-1 deadlock 6:51 into the third period, John LeClair notched a goal and two points, and John Vanbiesbrouck stopped 28 of 30 shots to lead the Flyers to a 2-1 road win over the Boston Bruins at the Fleet Center.
A LeClair marker in the first period and Joe Thornton tally in the second left the clubs in a 1-1 tie into the third period, setting up Desjardins' game-winner. Eric Lindros posted helpers on both Flyer goals.
1999: Rod Brind'Amour scored a goal and added an assist in his second game of the season due to an injury, but the Flyers blew a 4-1 lead in an eventual 4-4 deadlock with the Atlanta Thrashers at the First Union Center.
Goals from Mikael Andersson, Mikael Renberg, Mark Recchi, and Brind'Amour made it a 4-1 contest 6:42 into the middle stanza, but Atlanta scored the last three of the night -- with Nelson Emerson's early third period tally serving as the game-tying marker.
Brind'Amour, who missed the first 34 games of the campaign due to a fractured left foot, posted his first two points of the year in his second contest back.
Brian Boucher stopped 25 of 29 shots, while Scott Fankhouser was spectacular -- 36 saves on 38 shots, including all five shots registered in overtime -- in relief of Norm Maracle, who was yanked after Andersson and Renberg beat him on the four shots he faced in the first 3:40 after the opening faceoff.
2000: Dan McGillis beat Arturs Irbe with 1:10 remaining in overtime to give the Flyers a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at the First Union Center.
Jeff O'Neill gave the visitors an early first period lead, but Simon Gagne answered early in the middle session to tie the game at 1-1.
Roman Cechmanek was spectacular in making 35 saves, including four in overtime.
2002: Simon Gagne scored the game-tying goal early in the third period and Robert Esche stopped 26 of 28 shots in a 2-2 draw with the Ottawa Senators at the Corel Centre.
Michal Handzus also scored for Philadelphia.
Simon Gagne and Forsberg gave Philly a 2-0 lead at the first intermission, and they added to that lead on Dennis Seidenberg's first goal of the season early in the second period.
But Thomas Surovy and Erik Christensen made it a 3-2 game heading into the third, and rookie Sidney Crosby notched a pair within 44 seconds early in the third to stake the Pens to their first lead of the night at 4-3 before Forsberg's second and Knuble's game-winner.
Rookie Mike Richards assisted on a pir of goals, including the primary assist on Knuble's winner.
2008: Simon Gagne snapped a 4-4 tie with 5:30 remaining in the third period and Antero Niittymaki made 17 saves to lead the Flyers to a 6-4 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia led 2-1 after the opening period on strikes from Matt Carle and Joffrey Lupul, and furthered their lead in the second to 4-2 on Jeff Carter's NHL-leading 26th of the year and Andreas Nodl's first career goal.
Scott Hartnell added a pair of helpers in the victory.
Goals from Betts and Richards staked the visitors to a 2-0 lead after the opening frame, but Zenon Konopka and Victor Hedman scored in the middle stanza to make it a 2-2 game at the second intermission.
Betts snapped the deadlock with 9:59 remaining in regulation with his second of the contest, before Richards netted his second for an insurance marker and Simon Gagne hit the empty net with 34 seconds left.
As For The Present:
With the lockout now at the 99-day mark and counting and with the league's announcement Thursday that games are now canceled through January 14th, the official count of games the team has lost all-time due to lockout is now at 158 -- 36 in the shortened 1994/05, the entirety of the 82-game schedule in 2004/05, and 41 thus far this season:
October 11 Boston Bruins @ FLYERS
October 13 FLYERS @ NY Islanders
October 18 Pittsburgh Penguins @ FLYERS
October 20 Winnipeg Jets @ FLYERS
October 25 FLYERS @ Montreal Canadiens
October 27 Toronto Maple Leafs @ FLYERS
October 28 FLYERS @ Buffalo Sabres
October 30 Dallas Stars @ FLYERS
November 1 New Jersey Devils @ FLYERS
November 3 Anaheim Ducks @ FLYERS
November 4 FLYERS @ NY Rangers
November 6 Buffalo Sabres @ FLYERS
November 8 FLYERS @ Carolina Hurricanes
November 10 Carolina Hurricanes @ FLYERS
November 13 Minnesota Wild @ FLYERS
November 16 FLYERS @ Buffalo Sabres
November 17 Buffalo Sabres @ FLYERS
November 21 Ottawa Senators @ FLYERS
November 23 Winnipeg Jets @ FLYERS
November 24 FLYERS @ NY Rangers
November 28 FLYERS @ Toronto Maple Leafs
November 29 FLYERS @ NY Islanders
December 1 FLYERS @ Florida Panthers
December 4 FLYERS @ Tampa Bay Lightning
December 6 San Jose Sharks @ FLYERS
December 8 FLYERS @ New York Islanders
December 9 New York Islanders @ FLYERS
December 11 New Jersey Devils @ FLYERS
December 13 FLYERS @ Washington Capitals
December 15 Carolina Hurricanes @ FLYERS
December 19 New Jersey Devils @ FLYERS
December 21 FLYERS @ New Jersey Devils
December 23 FLYERS @ Ottawa Senators
December 27 FLYERS @ Nashville Predators
December 29 FLYERS @ St. Louis Blues
December 31 FLYERS @ Phoenix Coyotes
January 3 FLYERS @ Los Angeles Kings
January 5 FLYERS @ San Jose Sharks
January 6 FLYERS @ Vancouver Canucks
January 10 Montreal Canadiens @ FLYERS
January 12 New York Rangers @ FLYERS
The NHLPA may proceed with a Disclaimer of Interest as player membership voted overwhelmingly in support of the action, which could be forthcoming soon. (Remember the same thing happened with the NBA in recent years, and an agreement came between the league and players within two weeks).
Not to be outdone, the league has a class action complaint pending which seeks a declaration to confirm the legality of the lockout.
Just when you thought things couldn't get any more contentious or litigious between the sides as the waiting game continues, that is exactly what happened.
And just to throw a bit more confusion into the mix, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said on a radio show Wednesday that he believes there will be a season -- a day before the cancelation of more games.
At this juncture, there is really only two ways the gridlock can end, either with a shortened, condensed calendar like the 1994/95 lockout -- where an agreement was finally reached in the second week of January and games began on January 20th in the 48-game schedule -- or watching the entire campaign go up in flames as it did in 2004/05.
While there is still hope that sanity will somehow prevail and there can still be something to salvage of a 2012/13 NHL season, it is unfortunately looking like the sides may just be content to self-destruct.
And it will be interesting to see what fan reaction will be once this mess is finally sorted out and the league resumes operations -- because after what they've been put through, the base that pays the bills may just have filed a "Disclaimer of Interest" of their very own.