Ed Van Impe's determination and grit defined how a Philadelphia Flyer should play. From the first days in Flyers history until their Stanley Cup championships
had been won, Ed was a steadying influence on the blueline.
Van Impe in his first year as a Flyer
He grew up idolizing Doug Harvey. He played his junior hockey in Saskatoon and played in Chicago's farm system- Calgary for a year, and Buffalo for 5.
In 66-67 he finally got his shot playing for Chicago and ended up being runner up to Bobby Orr in voting for the Calder (rookie of the year).
When it came time for the 67-68 expansion draft, the Flyers made Van Impe their first non-goalie selection. He held out of training camp for a while, but after
coming to terms with his situation he started taking a leadership role on the team. That first year was difficult. First he suffered a bad facial injury on
December 28th vs the Red Wings. After quickly coming back from that their home rink, The Spectrum, had its' roof
damaged. They had to play the last two months on the road (playing their home games in New York, Toronto and Quebec City). It was mainly Van Impe that held
the team together and they managed to hold on to first place. With his steady play he was voted on by sports writers to the Western Conferences' all star team.
Van Impe - 2nd ever Flyers Captain
He continued his mentoring of younger players. He had a master of the body check. No player could get by Ed without getting hit with his hip or shoulder. And goalies usually had a clear
view thanks to Ed removing any stray opponents by his view. He was also unafraid to block shots - one in 1967 required 16 stitches, another in 1968 knocked out
6 teeth and required 35 stitches.
The ultimate team player Ed gave up his captaincy without loss to ego or pride in 1972 to Bobby Clarke. With Ed's strength and character at the blue line, the Flyers won back to back championships.
Then came the incident he will be forever known for. It was January 11th, 1976. The Stanley Cup champions Philadelphia Flyers were to faceoff against the Soviet Red Army (made almost
entirely of the Soviet's world champion team). At 11:21 of the first period Van Impe hit Kharlamov from behind with an elbow. At this point the Red Army was being completely outhit and outplayed.
The Red Army coach led his players off the ice, only to return after being threatened with non-payment. 17 seconds after the game resumed the Flyers scored and won the game 4-1.
Less than two months after the Russian game the Flyers traded Van Impe to the Penguins for goaltender Gary Inness. Ed was injured during the following season's training camp and retired from hockey.