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Flyers vs. Isles Rookies Game, Quick Hits, Flyers Top 25 in 25: Renberg

August 23, 2017, 2:33 AM ET [118 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
QUICK HITS: AUGUST 23, 2017

1) For the second straight year, there will be a game between the Flyers Rookies and New York Islanders' rookies. This year's game will take place at the Wells Fargo Center on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. ET. The game is free to attend but requires tickets. On Tuesday, within a four-hour period of tickets becoming available online at the Flyers' official website, the entire allotment was gone. Additional tickets may be made available closer to the game.

Last year at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow, NY, the Flyers Rookies skated off with a 4-0 victory. Flyers goaltending prospects Alex Lyon and Carter Hart combined for a 28-save shutout and Tyrell Goulbourne posted a Gordie Howe Hat Trick as the team pulled away from the New York Islanders prospects over the final 23 minutes.

After the game remained scoreless late into the second period, Anthony Salintri put the Flyers rookies ahead on a setup from Travis Konecny. In the third period, goals by Steve Swavely, Goulbourne (shorthanded) and Carsen Twarynski (shorthanded) turned the game into a rout.

This year, first-time participating Flyers prospects could include 2017 first-round picks Nolan Patrick and Morgan Frost, Flyers NHL roster hopeful Oskar Lindblom, 2016 first-rounder German Rubtsov, fellow Russian import Mikhail Vorobyev, Mike Vecchione, Phantoms rookie defenseman Mark Friedman and the likes of Isaac Ratcliffe, Matthew Strome and undrafted camp invitee Ivan Kosorenkov. Returning participants figure to include players such 2014 first-round pick Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin, Hart and Philippe Myers.

2) Philippe Myers will participate in the 2017 NHLPA Rookie Showcase game on Aug. 28 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto. Neither of the first two picks in the 2017 Draft -- Nico Hischier (New Jersey Devils) nor the Flyers' Nolan Patrick -- are participating.

3) Flyers prospect David Kase was named to the Czech national team for games against rival Team Slovakia on August 23 and 24. The 20-year-old Kase is the youngest player on either team's roster.

4) August 23 Flyers Alumni Birthday: Dave Gardner (1952).


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FLYERS TOP 25 IN 25: MIKAEL RENBERG

After a brilliant start to Mikael Renberg's first two-and-a-half seasons in the NHL, a series of major injuries cut the heart out of what otherwise may be have been the prime of the well-liked Swede's career. Best known as the right winger on the Legion of Doom line with Eric Lindros and John LeClair, Renberg was a fine all-around player in his own right before the injuries.

His success did not come simply by riding the coattails of Lindros and LeClair or rookie-year linemate Mark Recchi.

"I think one thing that both E and I appreciate more than a lot of people do is because Renny did so many little things that made everything so much easier for us. There wasn't a guy that forechecked harder than Renny, that I have every played with in my life," LeClair said in 2014.

"His passion for the game and how hard he went every shift and how, when we were losing or we needed a goal or something, he would really get that game face on. He was as talented as anyone I played with."

All three members of the Legion of Doom eventually declined as NHL offensive players due to serious, career-altering injuries. It just happened first to Renberg, and at the youngest age of the three players.

At the time the Flyers drafted Renberg in the second round of the 1990 Draft, the 6-foot-2 teenager was still extremely skinny. It would take several years to fill out his frame to the 215 muscular pounds that served him well at the NHL level. In the meantime, Renberg's all-around game and skating got better with each passing year.

The Flyers, in the midst of a rebuilding their team around teenage wunderkind Lindros, offered Renberg an NHL contract for the 1992-93 season. He turned them down because he did not feel ready for the NHL yet. The following year, after a breakthrough campaign in Sweden for Luleå HC, Renberg joined the Flyers.

Renberg quickly proved to be worth the wait for the Flyers. As a rookie in 1993-94, he set a still-standing franchise rookie record with 38 goals and 82 points. He also set a franchise rookie record - later broken by defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere in 2015-16 - with a 10-game point streak.

That season, he frequently played left wing on a line with Lindros and Mark Recchi. However, the Swede also played with a variety of other linemates of the course of the season, including Rod Brind'Amour and Kevin Dineen. For a portion of the early season, he was on a line centered by Russian forward Vyacheslav Butsayev with veteran Swedish forward Pelle Eklund.



Renberg was a finalist for the NHL's Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year but finished behind Martin Brodeur and Jason Arnott. He was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team was also the inaugural winner of the Flyers newly created Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Award for the most improved player on the Philadelphia team from the beginning to the end of the season.

Early in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, the Legion of Doom line was created after the Flyers acquired LeClair and defenseman Eric Desjardins (himself an impending Flyers Hall of Fame inductee) as part of a blockbuster trade that sent Recchi to the Montreal Canadiens. Renberg played right wing, with LeClair on the left wing and Lindros in the middle. While with Montreal, LeClair frequently played third-line center as well as wing.

The Flyers got shut out by Florida, 3-0, in the team's first game after the blockbuster trade with LeClair and Desjardins in the lineup. They had also been shut out, 3-0, by the lowly Ottawa Senators in the evening of the day the trade was announced.

Although the Flyers won their next two games, it was not until the fourth game that the soon-to-be dubbed Legion of Doom line exploded for five goals -- three for LeClair and two assists for LeClair, two goals for Renberg, two assists for Lindros -- in a 5-2 win over Tampa Bay.

From there, the LOD kept on rolling.

For his part, Renberg finished the 48-game season with 26 goals (tied with LeClair for 10th in the NHL) and 57 points (8th in the NHL) while missing one game due to a hip flexor ailment, In the playoffs, Renberg compiled six goals and 13 points in 15 games and was arguably the team's most effective forward in a second-round sweep of the defending Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers.



The Flyers finished just two wins short of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 1995, losing in six games to the eventual champion New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Final. The disappointment was palpable but the future seemed very bright for the Flyers as a whole and its top trio of Lindros, Renberg and LeClair in particular.

During training camp in September 1995, Renberg sustained what today would be called a sports hernia. This would ultimately become a career-altering injury from which he never completely regained his form.

Renberg underwent a surgical procedure to repair the injured area with mesh (a now-obsolete surgery). The surgery initially appeared to be a success.

Originally slated to miss four to six weeks, the hard-training forward pushed himself to return to the lineup in just over two weeks. He was in the opening night lineup in Montreal, recording a goal and an assist in a 7-1 rout in which every member of the LOD tallied a goal.

Renberg zoomed through the first 10 weeks of the season, producing points at virtually an identical clip to LeClair. On Oct. 15, Renberg signed a multi-year contract extension that took his salary from about $186,000 to $1.5 million per season. Later that night, he celebrated with a two-goal, three-point game.

Even when Lindros was lost to a knee injury in November (his third November knee injury in four seasons), Renberg kept right on scoring with Anatoli Semenov, Joel Otto and Rod Brind'Amour rotating as the center on LeClair and Renberg's line.

When Lindros returned, the Legion of Doom really got cranking again for several weeks. On December 3, 1995, Renberg had perhaps the best regular season games of his career, second only to a natural hat trick scored against San Jose in his rookie season.

On this night, Renberg scored his 16th and 17th goals of the season and added a nice assist on a John LeClair goal to power the Flyers to a 6-1 home win over the Boston Bruins. Renberg's second goal was one of the best of his career.

The sequence began with Renberg breaking up a Boston scoring chance with a good defensive play on the backcheck to start a counter-rush. Starting from his own goal line, Renberg sprinted up the ice to catch up to linemates Eric Lindros and LeClair and then finished off the play from point blank range. The goal earned Renberg a standing ovation from the knowledgeable Spectrum crowd.



Unfortunately, at some point in mid-December, the pain returned to Renberg's abdominal area. He soldiered on for awhile but his production slowly started to dip in the latter part of the month. By the first game after the All-Star break, the pain was too severe to continue.

Renberg missed 17 games with torn abdominal muscles. He was in an out of the lineup the remainder of the regular season, sometimes only being able to skate a few shifts.

Renberg did not record another regular season point after January 15 and finished the 1995-96 campaign with 23 goals (21 of which came prior to the statistical midpoint of the season) and 43 points (40 before the season midpoint).

Despite the ongoing pain - which required Renberg to take cringe-worthy numbing injections that enabled him to suit up - the third-year NHLer returned for the playoffs. He missed the first game of the playoffs to witness the birth of daughter Emmy Stina, but dressed in each of the next 11 postseason games. He gritted his way to three goals and nine points, including a two-goal effort to force overtime against the Florida Panthers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In a huge upset loss, the highly favored top-seeded Flyers lost to Florida in six games after taking a two games to one lead in the series.

After the season, the Flyers revealed the full extent of Renberg's injury: He had suffered a much more severe sports hernia than the initial injury in training camp. In one of the most severe known cases, Renberg suffered a complete tear of his abdominal muscles from the pubic bone.

Offseason surgery followed. Renberg was forced to withdraw from the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, the first official event held at the brand new Wells Fargo Center (then called CoreStates Center and originally known as Spectrum II). In his absence, Team Sweden still managed to reach the tournament semi-finals before losing a double-overtime heartbreaker to Team Canada in Philadelphia.

Renberg returned in time for the 1996-97 season but was never the same player again that he was before the severe sports hernia. Most notably, he lost some of his explosive skating and ability to protect the puck with his lower body.

For example, prior to the injury, Renberg frequently generated points by taking the puck from behind the net, making a hard circle out in front while fending off the defender and then either shooting the puck or passing to an open teammate. Likewise, before the injury, he was one of the NHL's top players in making sharp inside cuts from the circle. After his core muscle tears, those abilities never fully resurfaced.

Renberg still felt the effects of his sports hernia rehabilitation in the early stages of the 1996-97 season. He got off to a very slow start by his standards and did not get anywhere close to his previous form until shortly past the midway point of the season.

With Renberg scuffling, Murray removed the player from the top power play unit. He never returned. However, around midseason, Renberg started to produce even strength points at a healthy clip again.

For the regular season, Renberg finished with 22 goals (21 at even strength) and 59 points in 77 games.The bulk came after the 52nd game of the season. Over his final 24 games of the regular season, Renberg racked up 12 goals and 30 points.



Renberg had a five-point game (one goal, four assists) against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 6, 1997. On March 19, he followed up a three-point effort in his previous game with a two-goal, two-assist night against Toronto. Click here to watch scoring highlights from the Flyers' 9-5 win over the Canadiens on Feb. 6, 1997.

With Renberg in the best groove of his post 1995-career, he suffered another gruesome injury on the afternoon of April 6, 1997.

Just seven seconds after the opening faceoff of a home game against the Ottawa Senators, Renberg was accidentally kicked in the face by Randy Cunneyworth's skate and fell in a heap. Losing blood quickly, he was rushed to the hospital. To add insult to injury, Renberg was called for a penalty on the play for grabbing onto Cunneyworth as he fell to the ice.

At the hospital, Renberg received over 200 subcutaneous micro-stitches to repair the laceration from his chin to nostril. The doctors did a magnificent job. Once the injury fully healed, the scars were barely noticeable.

Incredibly, 48 hours after the on-ice accident, Renberg showed up for practice in Voorhees. Wisely, the Flyers elected to shut him down for the remainder of the regular season in order to give the wounds time to heal.

Renberg played very well in the first two rounds of the 1997 playoffs. especially in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Buffalo. In his first 10 playoff games, the Legion of Doom right winger produced four goals and eight points.



However, as the playoffs progressed, Renberg was increasingly affected by a different ailment: he had a painful problem with bone spurs in one his ankles that caused "skate bite" and required a postseason surgical procedure. After his rookie season, he had the same procedure on the other foot.

Renberg's ice time was reduced for the remainder of the playoffs, and rookie Dainius Zubrus was moved to the top line. The Flyers defeated the New York Rangers in five games in the 1997 Eastern Conference Semifinal before getting swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the Final.

The summer of 1997 was not a happy time in Renberg's professional life. Renberg spent the summer hearing his name mentioned in trade rumors. On August 20, 1997, the rumors came true.

The Flyers worked out an agreement with the Tampa Bay Lightning by which the Bolts declined to match Philadelphia's offer sheet for restricted free agent center Chris Gratton. Tampa received five first-round draft picks from the Flyers as compensation from the NHL. The picks were immediately flipped right back to the Flyers in exchange for Renberg and defenseman Karl Dykhuis.

Renberg became the captain of the woeful Lightning shortly after his arrival. The team's fortunes had fallen sharply after making the playoffs in 1995-96 and was now among the weakest teams in the NHL.

The season started off on a good note. Renberg scored two goals in his regular season debut for the Lightning. Not long thereafter, the injury bug bit Renberg yet again. He suffered a broken right hand that caused an extended absence from the lineup and was still not 100 percent upon his return.

Renberg finished the 1997-98 season with 16 goals and 38 points in 68 games. While these totals were nowhere near what he produced in Philadelphia, injuries and the utter lack of talent around him played into his poor season. Underscoring the thinness of the Tampa lineup, Renberg's 16 goals were actually good enough to tie for the team lead and his 38 points were just two behind team leader Paul Ysebaert, who dressed in all 82 games.

A difficult year ended on an up note for Renberg. Playing for Team Sweden at the IIHF World Championships in Switzerland, Renberg performed well for a squad that went on to win the gold medal.

Entering the 1998-99 season, Renberg decided to step down as Tampa's captain. He told coach and general manager Jacques Demers that he needed to get his own game back together again and did not feel like an effective captain when he was unable to lead by example to his satisfaction.

With a new owner at the helm, Tampa made a few upgrades to their lineup in the offseason. The club added the aging and injury prone but still scrappy Wendel Clark and veteran playmaking center to the roster to form the top line with Renberg. The club also added prized rookie Vincent Lecavalier, the top overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft.

Things got off to a relatively solid start for the Bolts as team hovered around .500 in the early going of the campaign. Unfortunately, the team soon hit the wall again. The club even experimented with Renberg playing center for the first time in his NHL career.

Renberg also suffered yet another significant injury, breaking his thumb and missing seven games. He produced 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 20 games, with most of the points coming in the first few weeks.

Now in the final year of the contract he signed with the Flyers in 1995, Renberg declined to negotiate a contract extension with Tampa. As a result, Demers decided to make Renberg in trade discussions.

In the meantime, Chris Gratton struggled in Philadelphia after a move from center to left wing. Through 26 games of the 1998-99 season, he had just one goal -- a tally in the final minute of a 7-1 blowout win against the Vancouver Canucks -- and eight points.

On December 12, 1998, the Flyers stunned the hockey world. In a reversal of the August 1997 arrangement, the Lightning returned Renberg to the Flyers in exchange for Gratton. Additionally, young forward Daymond Langkow headed to Philadelphia in the deal, while veteran Mike Sillinger went to Tampa Bay.



In a nod to the past, Flyers head coach Roger Neilson reunited Renberg with Lindros and LeClair for his first shift of his return game. However, over the remainder of his second stint with the Flyers, Renberg rarely played with his old linemates. Keith Jones was the right winger on the revised version of the Legion of Doom.

Renberg's primary linemates over the balance of the 1998-99 season were Brind'Amour and Valeri Zelepukin. Renberg also played on the second power play unit.

Renberg scored a goal in the second game of his return Actually, he was initially credited with two goals but the first one was changed to credit defenseman Petr Svoboda after first-period replays revealed his shot deflected off a Calgary Flames defenseman and Renberg had not touched the puck on its path into the net. Three nights later, Renberg assisted on a Brind'Amour goal in a 2-2 tie against Tampa Bay.

Thereafter, Renberg just could not stay healthy long enough to stay in any kind of groove. In a first period shift of a December 21st road game against the Boston Bruins -- won 2-1 by the Flyers -- Boston defenseman Kyle McLaren lined up Renberg for a heavy but clean hit along the right side boards.

In the late 1990s, many NHL arenas used seamless glass around the boards. While it improved aesthetics, the heavy glass had no give to it upon contact. As a result, many players suffered injuries that would not have happened with the standard glass. Renberg sustained a separated shoulder.

The player's latest injury forced him out of action for the next nine games. Upon his return, Renberg picked up where he left off in rediscovering chemistry with Brind'Amour (the two had usually played well together in the old days when Lindros was unavailable or Renberg was otherwise switched onto Brind'Amour's line.

In the first eight games after his return, Renberg produced at least one point in six games (three goals and seven points overall). Unfortunately, a couple games later, Renberg left the ice in the third period with what was called a mild hip flexor injury.

Initially slated to be out a couple of games, Renberg gritted through the latest physical setback and stayed in the lineup without missing a match. However, his production began to drop noticeably. Over a 10-game span, Renberg failed to score a goal and produced just one assist.

In late February, Renberg finally started to round back into form. He notched points in six of seven games -- during a stretch when the team suddenly and inexplicably struggled for both goals and wins.

Thereafter, Renberg's play was inconsistent. He finished the regular season with 11 goals and 26 points in the 46 games he played for the Flyers after the team reacquired him from Tampa. On the final day of the regular season, Renberg dressed for the game but spent almost all of it on the bench. Neilson said after the game that the player was suffering from a stomach flu.

Renberg was noticeably ineffective in the Flyers' first round playoff loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His most notable moment came in Game One when he gave goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck a few words of advice before the veteran goalie defended -- and stopped -- a penalty shot attempt by Mats Sundin. Renberg knew what his countryman and sometimes teammate on the Swedish national team would try.

After the Flyers were eliminated in the six games, the team could finally reveal what really happened to Renberg. He did not have a stomach flu at the end of the season. Rather than a stomach flu, he had actually suffered broken ribs in the next-to-last game of the season.

As a free agent in the summer of 1999, Renberg re-signed a one-year contract with the Flyers. Training camp went promisingly and the forward opened the season as the right winger on a line with rookie center Simon Gagne (soon moved to left wing) and fellow second-stint Flyers forward Mark Recchi.

Unfortunately, once the season started, Renberg simply did not play well apart from brief flashes of his old form for stretches of about three or four games at time.The mini-revivals were followed by long droughts. Neilson lost confidence in the player and moved him down to the fourth line and even to the healthy scratch list for two games.

Renberg produced just eight goals and 29 points in 62 games for the Flyers in 1999-2000 as his role became more and more marginalized. On March 8, 2000, the Flyers traded Renberg to the Phoenix Coyotes and reacquired the services of Rick Tocchet after the power forward had been gone from the Flyers for eight years.

Upon his arrival with the Coyotes, Renberg was placed by head coach Bob Francis on the top line with Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk. He played neither great nor terribly, and produced a pair of goals and six points in 10 games. In the playoffs, Renberg had one goal and three points in five first-round games.



Renberg returned home to Sweden for the 2000-01 season. Upon his return to the NHL, Renberg spent three years with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although he was not the same goal-scorer he had been before the series of major injuries, he was still reasonably productive and remained a reliable two-way player.

Additionally, he spent some time as linemates with Sundin. Over the course of his career, Renberg had the rare privilege of playing alongside some of the greatest centers of his era: Lindros in Philadelphia, Sundin with the Swedish national team and Toronto and Peter Forsberg with the Swedish national team. There was also his brief time playing on the same side as Roenick with the Coyotes.

Renberg's best season in Toronto came in his first year. In 71 regular season games, he produced 14 goals, 56 points and a plus-11 rating. Late-season injuries limited him to just three playoff games.

In June of 2002, Renberg survived a serious scare. Out for a day of boating with father Bo on the northern Swedish archipelago, Mikael was trying to pull up the anchor of the 25-foot boat when he slipped and fell in the water. The propeller blade sliced his right bicep.

Fortunately, the boat was in less than five feet of water and Renberg's father and friends were able to rescue him and get medical help. The propeller did not sever any of the nerves in Renberg's arm and doctors at the hospital were able to stop the bleeding. As a result, he did not sustain permanent damage. However, his summer training regimen was thrown off course while recuperating.

The remainder of Renberg's time in the NHL was marked by continued injuries that limited him to 67 games in 2002-03 (14 goals, 35 points, plus-five) and just 59 games in 2003-04 (12 goals, 25 points). When able to put together reasonably healthy stretches of games that enabled him to get into a rhythm, Renberg was still able to produce. Unfortunately, as was the case on pretty much an annual basis after 1995, the tricky part was staying well enough physically to play.

In the fall of 2003, Renberg suffered yet another freakish malady. He sustained a blister on his hand from tying his skate laces. This is nothing unusual for a hockey player, but the blister soon became severely infected. Renberg took sick with a high fever and was hospitalized. Doctors were able to treat the infection and bring down his fever. If these treatments were unsuccessful, the doctors may have had to amputate his hand in order to save his life.

An NHL late-career personal highlight for Renberg took place in Game One of the Maple Leafs first-round playoff series against the Flyers in 2003. Renberg scored the game-winning goal to give the Leafs the early jump in the series. The Flyers went on to win the hard-fought series in seven games.

Renberg's contract expired at the end of the 2003-04 season. With the NHL preparing for a season-long lockout and his own body no longer ideally suited to withstanding the grind and punishment of the long season on the smaller rink, the 32-year-old's NHL career came to an end.

He finished his NHL career with 190 goals and 464 points in 661 games: reflecting the steep drop off that his many injuries caused after averaging over a point-per-game in his first two-and-a-half season, but still a very respectable career. In 67 career Stanley Cup playoff games, Renberg produced 16 goals and 37 points.



Renberg played out the remainder of his career in Sweden with Luleå HF and Skellefteå AIK. He retired as an active player after the 2008-09 season. Following his playing days, Renberg enrolled in college at Luleå University of Technology (LUT). After graduation, he went to work full-time as a physical therapist in Stockholm. On the hockey side, he worked on national television broadcasts as a studio analyst.

At the personal invitation of Eric Lindros, Renberg was a special guest the Flyers Hall of Fame induction ceremony of Lindros and LeClair on Nov. 20, 2014. He also rejoined his former Legion of Doom linemates for the Hall of Fame Game in Nov. 2016 and for the Flyers Alumni 50th Anniversary Game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni on Jan. 14, 2017.
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