Philadelphia Flyers: Sean Couturier has become a franchise icon

Sean Couturier has already accomplished a lot in his decade of suiting up for the Philadelphia Flyers. But now, with word of his lucrative eight-year contract extension that will keep him in Orange and Black into his late 30’s, it seems like the right time to examine his place in the history of this franchise.

Even though Couturier has seemingly been around forever as a two-way force for this club, he is still just 28 years old. An early start to his NHL career and a penchant for usually sticking in the lineup even while nursing injuries have combined to bring Couturier all the way up to 12th all-time in games played for the Flyers. A healthy campaign in 2021-22 will rocket him to 5th place on that list before he even turns 30 years old and his new contract kicks in.

From there, the sky is the limit.

Couturier should enjoy a few seasons as the premier two-way player in the league, as his senior contemporaries such as Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar either hang up their skates or see age-related regression. Couturier himself won’t be immune to this eventually, of course, but the Flyers look like they are in a great position to get the very best out of him for a good chunk of this contract, all at an annual value lower than what he could have made on the open market, selling his services to the highest bidder.

You can call Sean Couturier’s new contract a bit of a hometown discount, although I’m not one to say that $7.75 million per year is a bargain for anything. The bigger takeaway should be that the team and this player share a mutual vision. Couturier and the Flyers are on the same page to such a degree that they decided not to let contract talks drag out into the upcoming season, putting to rest any concerns about commitment from one side or the other.

Philadelphia Flyers star Sean Couturier continues to cement his place in franchise history.

Sean Couturier is a lifer. He will be a Philadelphia Flyer for his entire NHL career. And when the dust settles, he will almost certainly be the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, toppling the mark set by Mr. Flyer himself, Bobby Clarke. In fact, he may even pass his teammate Claude Giroux for the top spot instead, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The point is, Sean Couturier’s new contract is an indicator that he will be the bridge between generations of Flyers players and, critically, generations of Flyers fans. He was already here for the best seasons of his teammates like Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell, and he will be here for the best seasons of teammates such as Carter Hart, Cam York, and Joel Farabee. He will also be handed the “C” immediately after Claude Giroux takes off the jersey.

The career milestones of 300 goals and 1,000 points are reachable for Sean Couturier, but they will not be the ultimate measuring stick. His legacy will be largely defined by whether or not he lifts that silver grail while playing for the Flyers. But even if he doesn’t, his place in the history of the franchise will not be in doubt.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Sean Couturier’s career will go down as one of the best in Flyers history. Playing out the entirety of his new contract will put him at 19 years with the team, a mark rarely seen anywhere in professional sports, especially with a single franchise.

This is easily Flyers Hall of Fame material. And perhaps a number retirement, although that may hinge on how strictly the Flyers adhere to the policy of only retiring the numbers of Hockey Hall of Famers.

Speaking of which, don’t count Couturier out for that. His raw scoring numbers will not be overwhelming, it’s true. But if he can add more individual hardware and continue to produce at his current level for the next few years, he will make an interesting case for enshrinement. A championship or two wouldn’t hurt his case, either, although that really shouldn’t matter when considering players for various Halls of Fame.

Those who follow the Philadelphia Flyers have become all too familiar with the concept that if anything can possibly go wrong, it will. But we should all trust our hearts and minds when it comes to Sean Couturier and the legacy he’s carved out thus far and will continue to mold over the coming decade. We are in the midst of a great Flyers career, and Sean Couturier’s ongoing commitment to his team will continue to pay off for years to come.