It was another overwhelming day of grief for the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans yesterday. Ross Lonsberry, original Broad Street Bully member and two-time Flyers Stanley Cup Champion member, sadly lost his battle with cancer in a California hospital on Sunday. While fans remember his grit and guts on the ice, players remember him for the person he was off it. No matter how you look at it, the hockey world lost a great player and an even better man.
Lonsberry, who was 67 when he passed, spent most of his career as a left winger. As a player, the legacy he leaves behind with the Flyers is incomparable. Among the left wingers in the Flyers’ franchise history, he ranks eighth in games played (497), seventh in goals (144), sixth in assists (170) and seventh in overall points (314). Lonsberry was Flyer from 1971-78.
For those who personally knew Lonsberry, however, it wasn’t his stats that gave him the reputation he had; it was his spirit. In a story written by Jay Greenberg from the team’s website, many of his former teammates remember him for his cheerful attitude even in his health’s downtrend. Orest Kindrachuk recalls a time when he asked Lonsberry out for a beer after he had surgery to remove a lung. Lonsberry made a comment about only having one lung and Kindrachuk’s response was, “Does that mean you can only have a half-beer?” Lonsberry facetiously responded, “No, I will have a full beer.”
There’s no way to take the death of Lonsberry lightly. For players, they lost a teammate. For those who knew him personally, they lost a friend and a father. For fans, they lost a hero; and for fans who never got to see him play, they lost a key member to the fairytale stories they were told before they went to bed at night. Lonsberry may no longer be here with us, but you can bet that his spirit lives on through the Delaware Valley forever.