Rick MacLeish (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
The smooth-skating goal-scorer capped off Philadelphia's first Stanley Cup with the game-winning tally and remains one of the franchise's top producers in history. MacLeish was reportedly battling several ailments at the time of his death.
One of the most important Philadelphia Flyers in history has passed away. Center Rick MacLeish, a key member of the franchise's back-to-back Stanley Cup teams, has died at the age of 66. According to ESPN's John Buccigross, MacLeish had been battling several ailments recently.
Best known as a great skater with a wicked shot, MacLeish was the first Flyers player ever to score 50 goals – and he did so in his first full NHL season. But the next year would provide an even bigger stage, as MacLeish would help the Flyers to their first-ever Cup in 1974.
The Philadelphia center led the league in goals (13) and points (22) during the team's run and it was MacLeish who would go on to score the only goal in the Game 6 final against Bobby Orr's Boston Bruins to clinch the title. MacLeish would also lead the NHL in playoff points the next season, edging out Montreal's Guy Lafleur 20-19. Once again the Flyers would win the Cup, this time defeating the Buffalo Sabres in six games.
Though he has not been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, MacLeish was held in high regard by his teammates:
“Rick was probably the most gifted, natural center-man that the Flyers have ever had," said Bob Kelly (courtesy of the Flyers website). "He was a tough kid who skated and worked hard. Although he played in the shadow of (Bobby Clarke) he was every bit as good as Clarkie."
MacLeish was also included in THN's recent special "Dream Teams" issue thanks to his tenure with the OHL's Peterborough Petes. The Petes were ranked as our second-best development franchise and MacLeish was part of the first-team forwards alongside Steve Yzerman and Bob Gainey.
According to writer Dave Isaac, MacLeish had several serious brushes with death in the past, from a car crash and a skate-cut to the neck to a heart attack during a Flyers alumni game.
MacLeish is survived by his wife, two daughters and grandchildren.