The old adage “actions speak louder than words’’ remains prevalent in the 100-year-old sport of professional ice hockey.
But throughout the years there have been players equally adept at both.
The Flyers have had their share of these types – ones who could not only play the game but analyze it as well.
Some went on to become coaches, a few tried scouting or talent evaluation while others succeeded as TV/radio analysts.
In almost every case, the players who knew the game became team leaders and impactful performers.
Furthermore, these were some of the individuals who became “go-to’’ guys for the media after games. They were equally honest, blunt and candid — be it a triumphant, meaningful win or a brutal, last-minute loss.
Oh, and funny, too.
Here’s our all-time Top 10 straight shooters, in descending order:
>10. **Dave Poulin:** Probably second only to Bobby Clarke on the greatest captains’ list, Poulin’s finest hour may have come with his comments after the Pelle Lindbergh tragedy in 1985. Poulin, a University of Notre Dame graduate, brilliantly put into perspective what Lindbergh meant to his teammates, to the organization and the city of Philadelphia.
>9. **Bill Clement:** Although he only played on the Flyers for a relatively short time, Clement’s keen, articulate observations and wry wit came through even as a young performer. He knew when to be serious and when to crack a joke. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see he would wind up on national television in his post-playing years.
>8. **Mark Howe:** Of all those talented stars on the mid-‘80s two-time Stanley Cup finalist teams, Howe has been the only one to make it to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The son of hockey legend Gordie had that Gretzky-like gift to see the whole ice surface and think one or two moves ahead. And then he was nice enough to share that wisdom with the pen/microphone guys on a regular basis.
>7. **Scott Laughton:** It took years for Laughton to overcome the pressure and expectation of being drafted in the first round and making it as an NHL regular. He even spent a year in the minors. But he kept his eyes and ears open, learned the game inside-out. No wonder the Flyers just re-signed him on the brink of free agency. Laughton can be hard on himself, but that’s where his honesty shows through.
>6. **Keith Jones:** How do you replace Mikael Renberg on the “Legion of Doom’’ Line with Eric Lindros and John LeClair? You outthink opponents. Know when to chirp, poke somebody in the ribs with a butt-end and all the while keep his own bench in stitches. Likewise the press, with his quick one-liners. Just listen to the morning show on WIP. And on television, he’s now making the move from NBC to TNT.
>5. **Ron Hextall:** In hockey it’s all about accountability and no one shouldered more of the blame after a loss than “Hexy.’’ His fiery style on the ice did not carry over into his media sessions. He would field all questions at his locker and in a calm, collected voice explain why things went wrong and what needed to be fixed.
>4. **Mike Knuble:** As forthright as they come, especially around the cameras and recorders. Knuble was almost like having another coach on the ice. Learned the game from the greatest coach of all-time, Scotty Bowman. Looked you straight in the eye when he talked and measured his words carefully. He’s currently an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins and it wouldn’t be surprising if he wound up behind an NHL bench someday.
>3. **Craig Berube:** A quick story: At his first Flyers’ camp in 1986, Berube was listed on the hand-typed roster as being from Calahoo, Al. (a short abbreviation for Alberta). A young writer walks up and asks: “How did a kid from Alabama make it to the NHL?’’ Berube turns to the player in the next locker and says: “I thought you said these guys from Philly were bright!’’
>2. **Rick Tocchet:** One of the alltime best – absolutely no filter at games or practices. Coming up under coach/drillmaster Mike Keenan, Tocchet stood his ground. After games, it always sounded like he wanted to get things off his chest and boy, did he ever. He’s already coached two NHL teams and we believe the third time, when it happens, will be a charm.
>1. **Danny Briere:** Ask any veteran writer and they will tell you who’s No. 1. . .and it’s not even close. Danny once told us when he was a kid, he would spread the newspaper sports section on the kitchen table and read every story. He’s definitely our kind of ink-stained guy. When a reporter asks a question, Briere knows exactly where he/she is going and practically finishes the sentence. Now that’s what you call a Media MVP.