I didn’t grow up a Philadelphia Flyers fans. I wasn’t even a hockey fan until a few years ago when a friend from college introduced me to the sport following the disastrous 2006-07 season. I showed up late to the party, only reading about players like Eric Lindros, Mark Howe and Bernie Parent through news articles and various books (as well as the clips shown at every Flyers game).
That’s why today’s game between the alumni of the Flyers and the New York Rangers meant so much to me. The outcome was irrelevant and the pace was slow, but having the opportunity to watch the legends with my own eyes was was gratifying.
Observations from Section 308 –
- Bernie Parent, at 66, did not look out of step at all. He made a sprawling save on the second shot of the game, and stopped all 5 shots he saw in the four minutes he was in net.
- Flyers fans do not like Darius Kasparaitis.
- Bob “The Hound” Kelly was slashing like crazy. He and the others from his generation weren’t the quickest, but it was nice to see the LCB line in action. I had to laugh at the fan behind me, yelling “*%^*ING BACKCHECK, CLARKIE!”
- John Leclair scored the first goal of the game, collecting a pass from Lindros and roofing it over John Vanbiesbrouck. It couldn’t have been scripted any better; the woman next to me remarked that it warmed her heart to see Leclair one more time. It’s a shame that Mikael Renberg’s obligations to Swedish TV at the World Juniors Championship kept him from participating, but Mark Recchi filled in just fine.
- Both Lindros and Recchi spent time with the children playing on the auxiliary rink adjacent to the main rink in between periods. It was a classy display on their part.
- An even classier gesture was the players wearing #10 embroidered into their jerseys in honor of the late Brad McCrimmon, who died this summer in the airplane crash that claimed the lives of the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv squad of the KHL. McCrimmon was on his way to make his head coaching debut.
- Shjon Podein collected a garbage goal to put the Flyers up 2-0 after Rick Tocchet couldn’t come up with the initial rebound. Podein played 329 games with the Flyers before he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Keith Jones (where he eventually won a Stanley Cup).
- I was screaming when the first penalty of the game resulted in a penalty shot, before realizing that this was how all penalties would be handled. Kerry Fraser was on the ice, though… could you blame me?
- Mark “Trees” LaForest stopped the first penalty shot of the game from Nick Kypreos while Podein missed the net on his opportunity against Dan Blackburn. Leave it to Mark Howe, at the ripe age of 56, to show everyone how to score a penalty shot.
- Speaking of which, how weird is it to hear “Maria (I Like it Loud)” after watching a senior citizen score?
- Neil Little let in the only goal from the Blueshirts, a redirection from a Glenn Anderson shot through the five-hole. Little played two career games with the Flyers, posting an average 3.82 goals-against-average between them. He spent eight seasons with the Philadelphia Phantoms.
- The weather may have been warm enough for the game time to slide two hours, but the wind chill kept the stadium nice and cool. I highly recommend those attending the Winter Classic to bundle up.
- Brad Marsh made a sliding play in the third period to block a shot. He is 53 years old, and that’s insane. It may have just been second nature for him, but it was impressive to see that level of dedication.
New Years is a time when many look back at the events that took place in the past year, and perhaps even before then. It’s a time of reflection at what’s come before, and what is coming ahead. Today’s game between the alumni of the Flyers and the Rangers (and in some cases, both teams) was the perfect way to observe the history of the sport and celebrate its heroes.
Happy New Year, Flyers fans.
For the latest Flyers news and updates, you can follow me on twitter (@JoshJanet).