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My favorite Flyers player of four decades for great reasons, I saw Rick MacLeish live many times at the Spectrum. With blazing, powerful skating speed, amazing stickhandling, and one of the game's all-time best wrist shots, MacLeish could electrify the home crowd quickly. Whether by swooping down from behind to pick a defenseman’s pocket, sliding a nifty pass to a breaking winger, or weaving through defenders like a knife through butter, MacLeish earned his spot in the Flyers Hall of Fame.

Far too late, I regret, I would like to present the five most amazing things I saw him do.

Honorable mention: the three end-to-end rushes I saw him make from behind Bernie Parent all the way to a wrist shot for a goal. The Blues and Rangers had to know this could happen, but let him do it anyway? Amazing and breathtaking.

5. The hat trick against the Islanders in the 1975 semi-finals. Those upstart Islanders dragged the Flyers to an elimination game during the second Cup run. Ed Westfall bringing Kate Smith flowers notwithstanding, MacLeish unleashed on Billy Smith, including the top-shelf breakaway shot to cement the 4-1 win. A clutch performer with ice water in his veins, MacLeish led the Flyers in points both playoffs the Flyers won.

4. Showdown. Watching Action News’ Don Tollefson narrate home game highlights one night with barely-audible game audio, I saw this gem. Before Marty, the Vancouver Canucks had a standout goalie named “Brodeur” who went by “King Richard.” On a Flyers power play, MacLeish noticed the gaping hole between Brodeur’s leg pads. Brodeur stared him down, as if to dare him to shoot it there. MacLeish looked back as if to tell him he would do it. From the back of the right circle, MacLeish head-faked to the right corner and then ripped a bullet wrist shot to the net. Brodeur closed his pads and then... I had no idea what happened. Until I heard, “CLANK!” and the Spectrum crowd roar. MacLeish hit the back iron of the net with the puck so hard that even through the faint volume, it reverberated. Wicked shot! 

3. Don’t leave. A family member decided to take a rest room break at an offensive zone faceoff, believing he could not miss anything significant. Right in front of our section D seats, MacLeish squared up against Buffalo’s Rick Martin. From the left circle, MacLeish shot the faceoff drop, which never hit the ice before it touched the twine. A looping, lazy shot that seemed to take forever to get over Sabres goalie Gerry Desjardins’ glove—I have no idea how it went in. Extremely uncharacteristically, the reserved MacLeish jumped high up into the air with his hands raised. Simply amazing.

2. No rest. MacLeish bore down on Boston’s Gerry Cheevers at light speed on one of his hundreds of breakaways. On the off wing, he whipped a deadly wrister toward the left post that hit the post. The rebound hit the bar solid and skid about two feet in front of it. Near the bottom of the right circle, Cheevers about breathed a sigh of relief, until MacLeish vaporized around him and the entire back of the net to tuck in that loose puck, converting the near-miss. And Cheevers thought he was safe.

1. Long-range missile. On another two-zone breakaway, MacLeish had an afternoon to size up big Rangers star goalie John Davidson. He sped down the left wing right along the boards and decided to try something very different, which—in a playoff game--horrified me. [As a goalie, I know what made this work. Goalies rest in a down position, where Davidson would have started. They then get up to get ready, and then crouch down to set. It takes nanno-seconds, but I call it “up-down-up” and did it at the beginning of every play.] From the corner of the blue line and the boards, MacLeish lit off an absolute laser from 40-50 feet away. The shot sniped by Davidson’s glove hand as he tried to get it up to catch it. Most goalies can yawn before needing to react to an NHL shot from 50 feet away, but MacLeish took all of his time away with a shot that must have topped 100 m.p.h. As low-percentage as you can get, the amazing power in MacLeish's hands forced that shot to work.

Please add your stories, I would love to read them and keep the memory of this great man and person alive!

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