As a long time hockey fan and someone who has enjoyed reading up on the past of hockey from before I was born, I was aware of the many struggles the Philadelphia Flyers have faced over the years when it comes to finding solid goaltending. Many truly solid NHL teams were ruined by the fact that the goalie couldn't stop a beach ball. Even I was unaware of just how bad it really was in Philly. Even goalies who were solid elsewhere in the NHL had some of the worst statistical seasons of their careers with the Flyers. The position almost seemed cursed.
The Flyers have used many first round picks on goalies over the years and they have had very little success with it. Vets, rookies, outspoken loudmouths - they have all tried to achieve success with the Flyers and they have all for the most part failed.
The Flyers currently have Steve Mason and Michael Neuvirth who combined for a pretty good season so the future looks good for the Flyers but as most goalies seem to in Philly, an implosion is always on the horizon.
So let's take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at the 15 worst goalies in Philadelphia Flyers history.
15 Doug Favell
Doug Favell will be the oldest entry on this article as he played on the first roster in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers franchise. He shared the starting gig with Bernie Parent, who was arguably the much better goalie at the time, and proved to be when all was said and done. Favell wasn't too shabby and after Parent was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1971, Favell took over as the starter. Favell would reach career highs during this time with a record of 20-15-4 during the 1972-73 season. That season would be his last however as he would be traded in the offseason to the Toronto Maple Leafs (ironically for Bernie Parent)
Favell would go on to struggle for the rest of his NHL career but when he left the Flyers he left them with a record of 76-87-32 with a 2.78 GAA. Not horrible for his era of the NHL but not that good either.
14 Brain Boucher
Brian Boucher was drafted to solve all the problems the Philadelphia Flyers had been having for years. Boucher was selected 22nd overall in 1995. Boucher had a great start to his career as a Flyer. During the 1999-00 season Boucher shined with a record of 20-1-3 with a 1.91 GAAA and a .918 save percentage. The issue with Boucher was his inconsistency. Some games he could be a world-class goalie and in the next he was letting in soft goals. This is evident in the fact that Boucher's worst season came the first season after his best. Boucher fell back to earth during the 2000-01 NHL season with a record of 8-12-5 and a 3.27 GAA, .918 save percentage. The Flyers just couldn't seem to let Boucher go for long as he would play four stints with the franchise achieving a record of 73-68-19 as a Flyer with a 2.50 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
Boucher is infamous for holding the current NHL shutout streak at 332 minutes and one second that he set with the Coyotes during the 2003-04 season. It is not entirely Boucher's skills that finds this list but his lack of consistency definitely does.
13 Phil Myre
Phil Myre was not a horrible goalie by any stretch of the imagination. He spent 2 seasons with the Flyers and accumulated a record of 24-12-19 with a 3.71 GAA and surprisingly 37 PIMS. Myre played a part in the Flyers record 35 game undefeated streak during the 1979-80 season. However when the chips were down in the playoffs. the Flyers rode rookie goalie Pete Peters in the finals not having Myre play a single minute. Overall Myre was a decent goalie in a time where decent was okay. Scoring was much higher in Myre's era, as scorers got more skilled and goaltending techniques hadn't yet caught up.
He ended his career with a record of 149-198-76 so arguably his Flyers stop was his most productive, which is more indicative of the lineup in front of him. Myre was traded in 1981 to the Colorado Rockies for cash.
12 Michael Leighton
Michael Leighton was a waiver wire pickup by the Philadelphia Flyers back in January of 2007. Leighton would play four games with the Flyers before getting claimed by the Canadiens. The Flyers brought him back for the 2009-10 NHL season where we would shock the NHL with a record of 16-5-2 with a 2.48 GAA and .918 save percentage. The Flyers thought they finally had their legit starting goaltender and he fell into their lap as an unwanted free agent. Well that didn't happen. Leighton would only play two more games with the Flyers over the next three seasons with a shocking GAA of 4.54. In 2013 the Flyers would package Leighton up with a draft pick and send him to the Blue Jackets for Steve Mason.
Leighton would resurface with the Chicago Blackhawks organization in 2014. He would get into one NHL game last season. Meanwhile I think Philly is pretty happy with Mason.
11 Antero Nittymaki
When people think of truly disappointing goaltenders for the Flyers most fans bring up Antero Niittymaki. Niittymaki was selected 168th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1998. After a few years playing overseas and three seasons in the AHL (he hit AHL highs during the 2004-05 season with a record of 33-21-4) the Flyers put him in as a starter for the 2005-06 season and he didn't disappoint with a solid rookie campaign (23-15-6) unfortunately for the Flyers and Nittymaki that was as good as it got for him with the Flyers. Niittymaki followed this season up with one of the all time worst seasons in Flyer history. Niittymaki finished the 2006-07 season with a record of 9-29-9 (tying the record for most losses in a single season).
He would still be with the team in a reduced role for two seasons before moving on to the Lightning and then the Sharks. Niittymaki ended his Flyers career with a record of 62-61-23 with a 3.01 GAA and a .901 save percentage. Niittymaki showed flashes of brilliance early in his career but he flamed out spectacularly in the NHL
10 Roman Cechmanek
His name draws immense hatred from Flyers fans everywhere. He started as an inspirational story. A goalie picked in the 6th round making the big club and succeeding. He won the starter job right out of training camp before the 2000-01 season beating out fellow list mate Brian Boucher. He dominated the season on his way to a 35-15-6 record with a 2.01 GAA and a .921 save percentage. Not to mention the fact he finished 2nd in the voting for the Vezina Trophy. The Flyers fans got a taste of what was to come for Cechmanek in the playoffs that season as he imploded in their six game series loss to the Buffalo Sabres. His GAA jumped by over a goal a game.
His contentious relationship with his teammates and the media started to show through the next year as he publicly called out his teammates for some poor play in the playoffs. After the same thing happened the following season the Flyers had enough of their talented but disruptive goalie moving him to the L.A Kings for a 2nd round pick. Cechmanek ended his stint with the Flyers with a record of 92-43-22 with a 1.96 GAA and .923 save percentage.
During the playoffs however his stats were much more pedestrian with a record of 9-14 with a 2.33 GAA and a .909 Save percentage. The truly good goalies get better in the playoffs, not worse.
9 Ray Emery
Ray Emery is very much like Roman Cechmanek, he was a talented goalie that let his mouth get him into trouble. This time however it was his mouth that brought him to Philly. After a very auspicious ending to his time as a member of the Ottawa Senators he signed as a free agent with the Flyers in 2009 after spending one season in the KHL. From the beginning he struggled with health problems. He had a record of 16-11-1 with a 2.64 GAA in his first season with the Flyers. unfortunately his career almost came to an end in 2010 due to Avascular Necrosis in his hip. By the time he was healthy the Flyers had moved on and Emery would go on to play for the Ducks and the Blackhawks winning a cup with the Blackhawks in 2013.
Emery would rejoin the Flyers but he didn't have the same success. He would again join the Flyers organization in April of 2016. As of now Ray Emery has a record of 35-34-10 with a 2.88 GAA and a .901 save percentage as a member of the Flyers.
8 Mark LaForest
Mark LaForest was acquired by the Flyers in June of 1987 from the Detroit Red Wings for a 2nd round draft pick. LaForest was brought in to provide stable backup goaltending to the Flyer great Ron Hextall. LaForest fell far short of this task as he was not a reliable option in net. Mark would struggle to provide much of anything in net actually forcing the club to go out and acquire Ken Wregget the next season at the cost of their 2 first round picks in 1989. LaForest would get into 38 games as a member of the Flyers ending with a record of 10-16-4 with a 3.91 GAA and a .873 save percentage.
The Flyers would move on from LaForest in September of 1989 moving him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 6th and 7th round pick in 1991. That is a horrific return on investment but fitting for what LaForest accomplished in the NHL.
7 Stephane Beauregard
Stephane Beauregard was picked up by the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 1992. The summer of 1992 is one that had Beauregard get traded repeatedly. Beauregard was first traded from Winnipeg to Buffalo for Christian Ruuttu and future considerations in June. Then Buffalo moved Beauregard with a pick that became Eric Daze to Chicago for Dominik Hasek on August 7th, then again on the 10th; Beauregard was traded from Chicago BACK to Winnipeg for Christian Ruuttu....again. Finally, on the eve of the season, Beauregard was traded from Winnipeg to Philadelphia.
Talk about mass confusion and that confusion stayed with Beauregard as a Flyer. Despite playing behind fellow weak goalies on the team, Beauregard did nothing to stand out, going 3-9-0 with a 4.41 GAA and a .854 save percentage. The Flyers would quickly move on, however, sending him BACK to the Jets for two draft picks. What a whirlwind season for Beauregard.
6 Ken Wregget
Ken Wregget was a fine goalie for much of his NHL career. He had a record of 25-9-2 in 1994-95 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. His numbers wouldn't come anywhere near that as a Flyer. The Flyers spent two first round picks on acquiring Wregget from the Toronto Maple Leafs to shore up an aging goaltending squad on the team. Wregget would snare the starting role during the 1989-90 season and he struggled to a 22-24-3 record. Wregget would have only one season with a winning record as a Flyer (even then it was 9-8-3 during the 1991-92 season).
Ken Wregget was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 along with Kjell Samuelsson and Rick Tocchet for Brian Benning, Mark Recchi and a first round pick in 1992. Wregget left the Flyers with a record of 42-47-9 with a GAA of 3.55 and a .879 save percentage. Hardly seems worthy of two first round picks.
5 Ilya Bryzgalov
If you look strictly at stats then IIya Bryzgalov wasn't a horrific awful goaltender as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. He played in 99 games for the Flyers in his two years with the club and had a record in the regular season of 52-33-10 with a 2.60 GAA and a .905 save percentage. Those aren't elite numbers but they are decent. The problem was Bryz was getting paid elite money. During the 2011-12 season Bryz was making more than Martin Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury and Roberto Luongo. His stats paled in comparison to all of those players hence he was under a lot of scrutiny with the team. Some ill-fated comments to the media put him in the doghouse but the media loved Bryz as he was always good for a soundbite or two.
Unfortunately soundbites don't win hockey games and with the Flyers, Bryz couldn't seem to win many playoff games. Bryz's stats fall off a cliff when it comes to playoff games with a record of 5-6-0, a 3.46 GAA and a .897 save percentage. Elite goalies get better in the playoffs, not worse. Bryz was bought out in June of 2013, costing the Flyers $23 million over 14 years. I wish someone would pay me that much at my job to go away.
4 Bobby Taylor
Bobby Taylor made his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 1971-72 season. He was brought in to provide some solid backup goaltending after the trade of Bernie Parent. He would get into six games that season with a record of 1-2-2 and a GAA of 3.00. Sadly, Taylor's play on the ice pretty much went downhill from there. Taylor played a career high 23 games the next season with a record of 8-8-4 and a GAA that rose to 4.09, a number that would be hard for any NHL offense to overcome. Overall Taylor played 44 games over five seasons with the club and had a record of 15-16-6 with a GAA of 4.05. Really not what you expect to rely on in a backup goaltender. Bobby Taylor was traded in March of 1976 along with Ed Van Impe to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Gary Innes.
3 Glenn "Chico" Resch
Chico Resch was brought in to be a veteran influence on an outstanding 1985-86 Flyers team that was one of the best in the NHL at the time. The Flyers acquired Chico at the trade deadline from the New Jersey Devils for a third pick in the 1986 draft and looked for him to guide their team in a leadership role. Chico had entered the league in 1973, so to say he was on his last legs would be a pretty accurate statement. Chico had been a solid goalie in the NHL for many years but he was not as a member of the Flyers. He appeared in 22 games over two seasons with a record of 7-7-2 with a GAA of 2.96 and a .900 save percentage on two very good Flyers teams. Chico would retire after the 1986-87 NHL season to become the Flyers new goalie coach, a role that he was better in than as a player.
2 Bruce Gamble
Bruce Gamble was a member of the goalie carousel that was the Flyers after the trade of fan favorite Bernie Parent. Gamble would get into 35 games over the next two seasons but did not have much success on the ice during that time. He only played two playoff games with the Flyers and was winless with a 6.00 GAA, terrible numbers for a team that certainly had Stanley Cup aspirations that season. The regular season wasn't much better. In 35 games Gamble had a record of 10-14-4 with a 3.09 GAA, a disappointing tally for a goalie with high hopes. Sadly and unfortunately, Gamble would suffer a heart attack during a game on February 9th, 1972 and he would never play in the NHL again.
It was definitely a crazy time for the Flyers and things only got better once the team re-acquired Parent prior to their 1973-74 Stanley Cup season.
1 Maxime Ouellet
Maxime Ouellet was touted as the next big goaltender heading into the 1999 NHL draft. The Flyers were sure Ouellet was something special when the team drafted him and that he would solve all their problems in net. The organization let him develop in the minors and junior before calling him up to play two games in the NHL. He wasn't too bad sporting a record of 0-1-0 with a 2.37 GAA and .889 save percentage. However that is all he would play for the Flyers. The Flyers weren’t impressed and decided to package him – along with a first, a second and a third – in a deal for aging rental player Adam Oates.
As for Ouellet he struggled everywhere he went in the NHL. He would go on to play 10 more games in the NHL split between the Capitals and the Canucks. He would have a record of 2-5-2 with a 3.18 GAA. not what you expect from a 1st round pick.