Legion of Doom (ice hockey)

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The Legion of Doom was a forward line for the Philadelphia Flyers who played together between 1995 and 1997 comprising center Eric Lindros, left winger John LeClair and right winger Mikael Renberg. They were given this name not only for their offensive play, but also their ability to dominate games physically. The name was coined by journeyman center Jim Montgomery and popularized by Flyers announcer Gene Hart.[1]

Background[edit]

In the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons, Mark Recchi, Lindros, and Brent Fedyk had formed the productive "Crazy Eights" line. Renberg split his time playing left wing with Lindros and right wing with Rod Brind'Amour. Despite a strong start to the 1993-94 season, and emergent talents such as Lindros and Renberg, the Flyers fell apart in the second half of the year and narrowly missed the playoffs, the fifth consecutive time that the club didn't reach the postseason. This led to the firing of head coach Terry Simpson and general manager Russ Farwell. They were succeeded by Terry Murray and Bobby Clarke, respectively.[2]

The Legion of Doom[edit]

The line was formed in the lockout shortened 1994–95 season when John LeClair was traded to Philadelphia from the Montreal Canadiens, along with Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne, in exchange for Mark Recchi. Renberg was moved from Rod Brind'Amour's left wing and placed on Lindros' right wing. Murray then placed LeClair as the left wing to form the trio. LeClair was expected to use his physical prowess to make room for Lindros, and went on to exceed all expectations as LeClair's scoring totals jumped dramatically compared with his time with the Canadiens.

The line registered its first point on Saturday, February 11, 1995, in a game against the New Jersey Devils at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. The line made an immediate impact, as it helped the Flyers defeat the Devils 3–1. Before the formation of the line, the Flyers had struggled out of the gate, going only 3–7–1 through their first 11 games while being outscored 34–22. However, in their final 37 games (including the one on February 11 against the Devils), the Flyers went 25–9–3 and outscored their opponents 128–98 en route to capturing the Atlantic Division title and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Legion went on to score 80 goals and collect 96 assists that season for Philadelphia. Eric Lindros, with a total of 70 points, tied Jaromir Jagr for the scoring lead that season, but the Art Ross Memorial Trophy was given to Jagr as he had more goals. Lindros however, was named the league MVP by winning the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award. Lindros and LeClair both earned NHL First-Team All-Star honours.

1995-96 Season[edit]

The line stayed together for the 1995–96 season, which would turn out to be their most productive, as they scored 121 goals and picked up 134 assists.[3]

1997 Stanley Cup Final[edit]

Their last season together was 1996–97, where they scored 104 goals and collected 131 assists. The Legion's offensive production was down due to injuries to Renberg.

They also led the Philadelphia Flyers to the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals, collecting 26 goals and 32 assists in their play-off run, as they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, and New York Rangers in five games each.

However, they were upset by the Detroit Red Wings, who swept them 4 games to none. Detroit coach Scotty Bowman surprised Flyers coach Terry Murray by using the finesse-oriented defense pairing of Nicklas Lidstrom and Larry Murphy, rather than the rugged Vladimir Konstantinov, against the Legion of Doom. Lidstrom and Murphy's puckhandling abilities helped them neutralize Philadelphia's vaunted forechecking. LeClair and Lindros only scored one goal each during the Finals series; LeClair scored the Flyers' only goal as they lost Game Three 6-1, while Lindros finally managed to put the puck in the net during the dying seconds of Game Four to cut the Wings' lead to 2-1.[4]

Breakup[edit]

Terry Murray's contract as head coach was not renewed due to the "choking" incident, though he remained with the Flyers as a pro scout and later as an assistant coach.[4]

The line would be broken up in the 1997 off-season, as Philadelphia dealt Renberg in exchange for Chris Gratton. Lindros and LeClair still played on the same line for the next three seasons, with players such as Keith Jones at right-wing. Later Renberg would return to Philadelphia for exactly the same trade which would send Gratton back to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Although Renberg returned, the original Legion of Doom did not, for Renberg could never make it past the third forward line.

Mark Recchi returned to the Flyers midway through the 1998–99 season and again became the team's leading scorer. Lindros missed the end of the 1999–2000 season with a concussion, so the Flyers traded for Keith Primeau who played a physical forward role similar to Lindros, as Lindros only returned at the end of the playoffs. That turned out to be his last-ever game with the Flyers, as he held out the following season over a contract dispute and he was sent to the New York Rangers for 2001–02. John LeClair was bought out by the Flyers following the 2004–05 NHL lockout and signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On December 31, 2011, Lindros and LeClair played as "two thirds" of the Legion of Doom at the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers alumni game in Philadelphia at Citizen's Bank Park.

Legion of Doom statistics[edit]

Regular season[edit]

John LeClair Eric Lindros Mikael Renberg Combined Totals
Season GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1994–95 37 25 24 49 20 46 29 41 70 60 47 26 31 57 20 130 80 96 176 100
1995–96 82 51 46 97 64 73 47 68 115 163 51 23 20 43 45 206 121 134 255 272
1996–97 82 50 47 97 58 52 32 47 79 136 77 22 37 59 65 211 104 131 235 259
Totals 201 126 117 243 142 171 108 156 264 359 175 71 88 159 130 547 305 361 666 631

Playoffs[edit]

John LeClair Eric Lindros Mikael Renberg Combined Totals
Season GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1994–95 15 5 7 12 4 12 4 11 15 18 15 6 7 13 6 42 15 25 40 28
1995–96 11 6 5 11 6 12 6 6 12 43 11 3 6 9 14 34 15 17 32 63
1996–97 19 9 12 21 10 19 12 14 26 40 18 5 6 11 4 56 26 32 58 54
Totals 45 20 24 44 20 43 22 31 53 101 44 14 19 33 24 132 56 74 130 145

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Meltzer, Bill (2006-11-11). "Legion of the Doomed". Inside Hockey. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  2. ^ Meltzer, Bill (2008-01-29). "Great Moments: The Legion of Doom Wreaks Havoc on NHL". Philadelphia Flyers. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  3. ^ Meltzer, Bill (2006-12-19). "Legion of the Doomed, Part 2". Inside Hockey. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  4. ^ a b Farber, Michael (1997-06-16). "SI Flashback: Stanley Cup 1997". CNN/Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 

External links[edit]