Success on celebratory nights

The Flyers beat the N.Y. Islanders, 5-2, when Bernie Parent’s jersey was retired in 1979. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

On Monday at practice, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was asked whether an important on-ice ceremony – like watching Mark Howe’s No. 2 being raised to the rafters tonight at the Wells Fargo Center – can help motivate his players.

Initially, I dismissed the notion. How could a player who most of these current athletes never saw play possibly be a rallying factor for a home game?

Turns out, I was wrong.

Since 1975, the Flyers have held 17 distinct on-ice, pre-game tributes. They’ve lost just in regulation just 4 times.

The Flyers have never lost on a night they have retired a sweater. And the Flyers won, 3-0, when Howe was inducted into the Flyers’ Hall of Fame in 2001. (By the way – they won on Nov. 14, 2011 – the night Howe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto)

“I think any time there is a night like that, where somebody who has worn the jersey for a long time and had a terrific career, has a jersey gone to the rafters, it is a special night for not just that person but the fans,” Laviolette answered. “It’s well deserved.”

It took a while to dig through the newspaper archives to find the dates of the Flyers’ Hall of Fame ceremonies. But, if you were looking for a reason to feel good about tonight’s matchup with Detroit – other than Ilya Bryzgalov’s hot play and the Flyers’ disciplined attitude – maybe the results below will mean something to you.

By the way, the Red Wings have not won a regular season game in Philadelphia since Jan. 25, 1997, a little more than 5 months before they ripped the Flyers' hearts out in a Stanley Cup Final sweep. Detroit, one of the few teams more banged up than the Flyers, will be without goaltender Jimmy Howard (groin), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Todd Bertuzzi (groin), Nicklas Lidstrom (bone bruise in ankle), Jakub Kindl (upper-body) and Jonathan Ericsson (fractured wrist).

All-time results on ceremony nights:

March 6, 2011 – Mark Howe’s No. 2 – ??? vs. Detroit
Oct. 11, 1990 - Bill Barber’s No. 7 – 7-4 W vs. New Jersey
Nov. 15, 1984 - Bobby Clarke’s No. 16 – 6-1 W vs. Hartford
Oct. 11, 1979 - Bernie Parent’s No. 1 – 5-2 W vs. N.Y. Islanders
April 3, 1975 - Barry Ashbee’s No. 4 – 1-1 T vs. N.Y. Rangers

Nov. 16, 2009 – Dave Schultz – 3-2 W vs. New Jersey
Feb. 6, 2008 – Ron Hextall – 4-3 L vs. Washington
March 3, 2004 – Dave Poulin – 5-2 W vs. Nashville
March 15, 2001 – Mark Howe – 3-0 W vs. Minnesota
March 4, 1999 – Brian Propp – 5-0 L vs. Ottawa
Feb. 22, 1996 – Joe Watson – 5-3 W vs. Washington
March 8, 1994 – Tim Kerr – 4-3 L (OT) vs. Dallas
April 8, 1993 – Ed Van Impe & Joe Scott – 4-3 W vs. Washington
Feb. 13, 1992 – Reggie Leach & Gene Hart – 3-2 W vs. Quebec
March 21, 1991 – Gary Dornhoefer & Barry Ashbee – 4-1 L vs. St. Louis
March 22, 1990 – Fred Shero & Rick MacLeish – 5-3 W vs. Pittsburgh
March 16, 1989 – Bill Barber, Ed Snider & Keith Allen – 4-3 L (OT) vs. St. Louis
March 22, 1988 – Bobby Clarke & Bernie Parent – 3-0 L vs. Boston

TOTAL: 10-4-2, 57 goals for, 46 goals against.

Keep in mind, though, that Mark Howe is a current employee of the Detroit Red Wings, where he has won 4 Stanley Cups as the team’s top pro scout.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers