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.
The Flyers have a collective 12-8-1-1 mark -- which includes a current two-game winning streak and a 6-3-0-1 record at home -- on December 15th over the course of franchise history.
Philadelphia has scored 87 goals, while giving up 73 to their opponents in the 22 contests played on this day.
Some of the more memorable moments and brief recaps in Flyers history that took place in December 15th games:
1968: Bernie Parent turned away 36 of 37 shots and Dick Sarrazin scored twice to lead the Flyers over the New York Rangers. 3-1, at Madison Square Garden.
Jim Johnson also scored for Philadelphia midway through the first stanza to break a 1-1 tie.
Walt Tkachuk provided the only blemish in the game for Parent with an opening period goal, while Ed Giacomin made 26 saves in defeat.
1974: Don Saleski had two goals and four points and Bill Barber also lit the lamp twice as the Flyers grabbed a 5-0 lead on the way to a 7-2 drubbing of the St. Louis Blues at the Spectrum.
Philadelphia bolted out of the gates and carried play from the opening faceoff, outshooting St. Louis by a 25-10 count over the first two frames and leading 5-1 on the scoreboard.
Former-Blue Terry Crisp opened the scoring midway through the first, beating St. Louis starter John Davidson for a shorthanded marker with Ross Lonsberry in the sin bin. Saleski connected twice, followed by strikes from Barber and Dave Schultz before Craig Patrick got the Blues on the board late in the middle stanza.
Rick MacLeish and Barber closed out the scoring in the third.
After assisting on Saleski's first period tally, fighting Rick Wilson and scoring a goal in the middle stanza, Schultz completed the Gordie Howe hat trick.
Bernie Parent turned aside 21 of 23 shots in the victory, while Davidson made 34 saves in the loss.
1977: Bobby Clarke scored one goal and assisted on two others and Wayne Stephenson made 28 saves in a 6-4 Flyers triumph over the Boston Bruins at the Spectrum.
Goals from Bob Dailey, Rick MacLeish, Bill Barber, Ross Lonsberry, and Mel Bridgman staked Philadelphia to a 5-0 lead midway through the second period, but Boston came back with a pair by Bobby Schmautz, and single strikes from Jean Ratelle and Stan Jonathan to pull to within a goal at the midpoint of the third.
Clarke provided an insurance goal with 6:08 left to clinch the outcome.
Boston's Gilles Gilbert made 29 saves in the losing effort.
1979: Goals from Bob Dailey and Rick MacLeish midway through the third period erased a 2-1 deficit, lifting the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at the Spectrum.
The win made it 26 consecutive games without a loss (19-0-7) for Philadelphia, pulling to within two of the all-time NHL record set by the 1977/78 Montreal Canadiens.
Mel Bridgman also scored for the Flyers, and rookie netminder Pete Peeters made 25 saves to extend his number of games without a loss to begin the season to 14 as he raised his record to 12-0-2.
Sabres goaltender Don Edwards stopped 27 of 30 Flyer shots in the loss.
1983: Tim Kerr and Ilkka Sinisalo each scored a pair of goals as the Flyers put up a six-spot in the second period in a 9-4 blowout of the Washington Capitals at the Spectrum.
Included in the half-dozen middle stanza strikes were three of the shorthanded variety -- Mark Howe early in the frame and Miroslav Dvorak and Sinisalo within a 21-second span on the same Bill Barber minor -- as Philadelphia blew open what was a 3-2 contest after one session.
Brian Propp, Paul Holmgren, and Rick MacLeish also scored for the Orange-and-Black, with Pelle Lindbergh making 28 saves and being the recipient of the biggest offensive output of the season to that point.
1987: Kerry Huffman scored midway through the second period to snap a 2-2 deadlock as the Flyers skated to a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Igloo.
Goals from Doug Crossman and Scott Mellanby gave the visitors a quick 2-0 lead, but Randy Cunneyworth beat Ron Hextall twice before the opening frame ended to knot the score at 2-2 at the first intermission.
Following Huffman's goal to make it 3-2, Mark Howe connected on the power play later in the middle stanza and Murray Craven closed out the scoring with a shorthanded empty net marker with two seconds remaining in the contest. Craven also assisted on three Philadelphia tallies in the win.
Hextall stopped 26 of 28 Pens shots to register the victory.
1988: The Flyers got a shorthanded goal from Brian Propp, a power play tally from Gord Murphy, and an even strength marker from Murray Craven to take a commanding 3-0 lead and Ron Hextall made 32 saves in a 4-1 triumph over the Washington Capitals at the Spectrum.
Tim Kerr added his 25th goal of the season in the third period to close out the scoring.
The Caps outshot Philadelphia in each period but Hextall outplayed former-Flyer netminder Pete Peeters, who stopped 19 of 23 Philly shots in a losing effort.
1996: Rod Brind'Amour scored a goal and assisted on two others and Ron Hextall turned aside all 28 shots sent his way to record his second shutout of the season as the Flyers blanked the Boston Bruins, 6-0, at the CoreStates Center.
Shjon Podein, Trent Klatt, Karl Dykhuis, Eric Lindros, and Kjell Samuelsson also scored for Philadelphia, while Eric Desjardins and Joel Otto each added a pair of helpers to the winning cause.
Boston's Bill Ranford made 38 saves in defeat.
1997: Vinnie Prospal, Eric Lindros, and Trent Klatt scored goals and Garth Snow stopped 20 of 21 shots to lead the Flyers to a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.
The only shot to beat Snow was a power play tally off the stick of former-Flyer Mark Recchi late in the first period.
2001: John LeClair and Mark Recchi each posted a goal and an assist and Brian Boucher stopped 32 of 34 shots to lead the Flyers to a 5-2 triumph over the Boston Bruins at the First Union Center.
Paul Ranheim, Ruslan Fedetenko, and Jeremy Roenick also put the puck past Byron Dafoe, and Simon Gagne added a pair of helpers.
2007: Joffrey Lupul notched a hat trick -- including the game-tying power play goal with 8:14 to send the contest into overtime -- but former-Flyer Rod Brind'Amour scored the game-winning shootout goal to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 6-5 win at the Wachovia Center.
2010: The line of James van Riemsdyk (two goals), Jeff Carter (goal, two assists), and Nikolay Zherdev (goal, assist) combined for four goals and seven points and Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 38 of 41 shots as the Flyers defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 5-3, at Bell Centre.
With the score knotted at 3-3 late in the third period and Tomas Plekanec serving a slashing minor, van Riemsdyk netted his second goal of the night to give Philadelphia a lead they would not relinquish.
Claude Giroux added some insurance 1:01 later to set the final score.
Montreal's Carey Price made 25 saves in the loss.
2011: Andrej Meszaros' goal 8:08 into the third period snapped a 3-3 tie and lifted the Flyers to their seventh consecutive victory with a 4-3 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.
Maxime Talbot, Harry Zolnierczyk, and Wayne Simmonds also beat Carey Price, and Matt Carle assisted on three of the Philadelphia markers.
Once again it was Sergei Bobrovsky playing extremely well in defeating the Habs, this time making 28 saves to pick up the win.
Clouding the celebration of the team's recent good fortunes was GM Paul Holmgren's announcement that the club -- already without top scorer Claude Giroux because of a concussion -- would be without captain and top blue liner Chris Pronger for the remainder of the season with post-concussion syndrome.
December 15th Flyers Trade:
On this day in 1996, the Flyers acquired legendary defenseman Paul Coffey from the Hartford Whalers for Kevin Haller and two draft choices. Coffey brought his free-wheeling skating stride and offensive abilities to Philly, and it paid off for some time. But his effectiveness became somewhat limited following a scary collision with teammate Eric Lindros in January of 1997 in which Coffey laid on the ice for several minutes and was later diagnosed with a concussion. He was never the same after the incident. In parts of two seasons with the club, he compiled eight goals and 55 points in 94 contests in Philadelphia before being dealt in June of 1998 to the Chicago Blackhawks for a draft pick.
December 15th Flyers Birthday:
On this day in 1988, Philadelphia defenseman Erik Gustafsson was born in Kvisselby, Sweden. After After three seasons at Northern Michigan University, the 5' 10", 180-pounder was signed as a free agent by the Flyers in March, 2010. After spending the entirety of the 2010-11 campaign and a portion of 2011-12 with the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms Gustafsson made the jump to the big club and played well in 30 regular season contests, posting a goal, five points, and a +12 rating -- which tied for fourth-best on the Flyers. In his first taste of NHL postseason hockey, he notched a goal, two points, and a +4 in seven appearances.
As For The Present:
With the lockout now well into its third month and Monday's announcement that games are now canceled through the end of the calendar year, the official count of games the team has lost all-time due to lockout is now at 153 -- 36 in the shortened 1994/05, the entirety of the 82-game schedule in 2004/05, and 35 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
The league and NHLPA met this week with the help of U.S. federal mediators Scot L. Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney, with approximately 43% of the season having already been wiped out in the labor dispute.
The NHLPA took a vote to possibly proceed with a Disclaimer of Interest, which could be forthcoming very soon.
Not to be outdone, the league then filed a class action complaint Friday afternoon 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.
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.