Our weekly look at past atrocities committed by the Philadelphia Flyers continues with a dive into Pavel Brendl, the guy who was supposed to be the “crown jewel” of the Eric Lindros trade.
August 20, 2001 was a monumental day in Philadelphia Flyers history, as they traded Eric Lindros to the hated New York Rangers. It was a clean break after years of problems between a player and his team, and it finally provided a fresh start to all involved. For the Flyers, that meant some new faces were coming back in exchange for Lindros. And right from the start, we were told to get excited about Pavel Brendl.
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Yes, 20-year old Pavel Brendl, the Rangers’ former first round pick (fourth overall) just two years earlier. But right from the jump, it did seem a tad curious that the highly-touted Brendl had remained in junior hockey for two more years even when the Rangers were lousy and could have used a jolt from an exciting young player like him.
Turns out that the Blueshirts knew they had a dud on their hands and opportunistically used the Lindros trade as a way to unload him. It became apparently pretty early that Brendl’s attitude and poor work ethic were going to make him a complete defensive liability, and he started being regarded as a total hot dog.
Still, the Flyers were probably happy to get anything for the outgoing Lindros. They thought that they might as well take a shot by bringing the young Brendl into a new environment, although it’s kind of a shame that they couldn’t talk the Rangers into throwing in a young goaltender whom they had just drafted the year before into the trade instead.
A quick mention on the other pieces in the Lindros trade: Kim Johnsson turned out to be a solid player for the Flyers, and he was their best defenseman for most of his four years with the team. Jan Hlavac, however, fizzled badly. Coming off a 28-goal season with New York the previous year, he scored just 7 goals in 31 games for the Flyers before they sent him packing to Vancouver. He didn’t even make it to Christmas in his first season in Philly. Anyway, back to Brendl.
He’d get his first taste of NHL action less than two months after coming to the Flyers, but he only managed to put up a single goal in seven games before they assigned him to the Phantoms. And that one goal was a shot from center ice that Olaf Kolzig completely misplayed. Real sniper there. Brendl would also play in one game at the end of the season for the Flyers while supposedly “honing his craft” in between in the minors.
It was time to get serious in 2002-03, but Brendl showed that he had little interest in that. The Flyers allowed him 42 games to show what he could do, but he was only given 10:19 of ice time per game, a number indicative of how little coach Ken Hitchcock trusted him. And that was that. Seeking a veteran for the playoff run, the Flyers flipped Brendl to the Carolina Hurricanes for Sami Kapanen (with some other pieces involved). So at least they turned nothing into something.
Lindros never replicated the kind of success he had for the Flyers. If he had, the Brendl acquisition would look even worse than it already did. But any way you slice it, the guy was just ill-suited to play for the Flyers or in the NHL at all. As if Brendl wasn’t enough of a bum in Philly, you can check out what they’re saying about him in other organizations. He appeared in just 78 career NHL games. What a waste.