Flyers Alum Win My Heart (Again) at 50th Anniversary Game

| January 28, 2017 | Reply

I should probably start by thanking my husband, Paul, for indulging my mid-life crisis.

The second that I read that this 50th anniversary season’s alumni game would feature players from all five decades, I knew I had to be there. Moreover, I wanted amazing seats. I thought, hmm…we would get first dibs if we were season ticket holders. That would be ridiculous, though–we couldn’t go up often enough to make it even close to worth the ton of money it would cost. Then I thought about the weekend ticket plan, but I thought there was no way Paul would go for it.

philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni hockey game 2017 bobby clark billy barger

Then one day I mentioned it and Paul (not paying attention?) said, Sure, why not?

I didn’t clarify whether he was serious or not. I had just a few days before the alumni game tickets would go on sale. I immediately contacted the Flyers sales rep I’d been talking to, and I ordered the weekend plan.

The morning that tickets went on sale, there I was buying seats in the second row, behind the Flyers’ bench. To say that I was excited about this game is an understatement.

But first, we had our weekend games to enjoy.  I donned my Zezel jersey (I was a young girl when Zezel and Tocchet were Philly’s heartthrobs) and we drove up from Maryland for a pre-season game.

And put my kid in my old Zezel tee.

I put my kid in my old Zezel tee.

I realized that it had been almost 20 years since I’d been to a game–basically, since leaving my home state of Pennsylvania. When the Flyers skated out onto the ice, I was instantly in tears. Now, I’ll admit that I’m in a phase of life where I can cry if I drop a pen or see a dead worm. Still, the tears in my eyes when the Flyers skated onto the ice were real.

Photo bomb...gotta love Philly!

Another game, we were photo bombed…gotta love Philly!

At each game, I take in every second: from the “Let’s Go Flyers!” to the “sucks” yelled after the announcement of an opposing player’s name. I squeal during the light shows and Jumbotron videos honoring alumni. I leap up when goals are scored. I totally lose my shit at a hat trick. I roar when a fight breaks out. The first time my child heard me cheer for the Flyers, she was startled by the volume and the passion. Never had I exhibited such enthusiasm at any other sports game we’d attended.

vintage old school philadelphia flyers hockey philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni hockey game 2017

Bustin’ out the vintage Clarke tee!

The alumni game finally arrived. We drove into Philly, donned our black and orange, and requested an Uber to get us to the game.

philadelphia flyers hockey philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni hockey game 2017

Clarke jersey over the Clarke tee

Once we were in the Wells Fargo Center, I picked up the program and yearbook, then bought a 50th anniversary book that weighs about as much as my kid.

Some serious reading to do.

 

We headed to our seats. I watched them roll out the black carpet. I watched each player skate out.  I was cheering, screaming, and clapping, tears in my eyes. I never would have imagined I’d see these guys play again. I could not contain myself.

kate smith statue philadelphia flyers xfinity wells fargo center

The Flyers’ good luck charm

Before the game, I’d said that I hoped to see a clip of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” before the national anthem. My wish came true: Lauren Hart sang “God Bless America” in a duet, with the late, great Kate Smith up on the screen. It was amazing. I might have cried a little.

Kate Smith on screen

Kate Smith on screen, a sea of orange in the stands

My palms, on hands that applauded non-stop from the announcement of each player until the end of God Bless America–pausing only for the song itself–stung for over 20 minutes after I stopped.

My hands were killing me from all the clapping!

My hands were killing me from all the clapping!

I’m so glad I sprung for these seats. Was it a little hard to see when the puck was down the other end of the ice? Yeah. Will I need a neck brace after tilting my head back to watch the replays? Probably. But I was behind the Broad Street Bullies, guys!

philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni game clarke kelly leach barber

THESE GUYS RIGHT HERE!

As for the boys getting out on the ice, it looked like a bunch of chums meeting up on some frozen pond. The banter was so fun to witness.  It wasn’t a bunch of intense faces looking to win a game–it was a lot of chuckling and a good time.

Many of the players were without helmets just as they’d been years ago. Old-school, badass hockey players. God it was awesome. (As a mother speaking, it was terrifying.)

Behind the bench, we had Crisp to keep an eye on. Certifiable goofball, that one.

philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni hockey game 2017 terry crisp

Sadly, this guy cant skate :

Sadly, this guy can’t skate :(

In the stands, there were playful jokes of oxygen tanks and broken hips, but amid total awe. Everyone knew it was a magical mix of guys on the ice–one we were privileged to watch. If there had been a broken hip, it would’ve occurred when one of the older guys heaved himself over the boards. They’re a little high, you know? I mean, I’d dislocate a hip for sure, so I really can’t talk.

At the risk of repeating myself, there is nothing to describe the feeling of sitting behind these guys. They’re Flyers history.

philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni hockey game 2017 barber clarke leach stanley cup lineup

Throughout the game, Bobby Clarke was the face of hockey he’s always been. He’s like a kid on the ice. I mean, a really slow kid, but still: he always looks like a kid who just wants to play hockey. He is the first player I remember squinting through binoculars to see from nosebleed seats in the Spectrum (where, incidentally, I was lucky enough to witness a bench-clearing brawl as a child–is it wrong for me to be proud of this?). No bench-clearing brawls this evening.

I'm fortunate to have personally witnessed a bench-clearing brawl in the Spectrum.

Bobby Clarke on the ice, guys.

It was not the fast-paced game that hockey has now become. The real fun of this game wasn’t in watching the hockey, though, but in watching their faces.

That is, unless you were my child, who slept through the whole damn game. Who does that???

asleep

My child is under that jacket. My child, who was two rows behind total legends, slept under a coat.  I have failed as a mother.

One thing that nearly sent me into fits of giggles every time I saw it, was Timmy Kerr playing with glasses on. It was adorable.

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See them?

Sitting behind these three guys was another highlight of the game for me. These are the guys I really watched play when I was young.

My guys.

My guys.

And these are the very guys I wrote a rap about, for a music assignment, with the help of my father. It was the 1986-87 season. Mind you, I was a school-age white girl, so this rap is not phenomenal. It is, however, a bit of nostalgia worth sharing–especially since quite a few of these guys were at the game.

Flyers, Flyers at the top of their division
‘cuz they’re under super super supervision.
With Keenan and Holmgren taking the charge,
and then there’s Samuelsson–boy’s he large!

There’s Bobby Clarke–he’s the GM,
and all the players, they look up to him.
Then there’s Hextall, a-mindin’ the net.
And then there’s Dave Brown–how tough can you get? 

Davey and Illka, and Propper, too, 
and Timmy Kerr’ll score the goals for you.
The Beast, Marsh, and Howe on defense
will take away any scoring chance.

Carson, and Craven, and Crossman, too–
and Eklund’ll show you a pretty pass or two.
Hospodor, Tocchet, and J.J. are great–
and I hear Peter’s lookin’ for a mate!

Cheko’s the man, when Hextall’s in pain,
and sometimes he even helps save the game.

About the Flyers (I’ve mentioned but a few)
and about the good things this team can do.
Playing with heart as they continue to score,
We’ll bring Lord Stanley back to Philly once more…

Philly once more…Philly once more.

So that’s the rap. Don’t make fun of me!

The game ended in a tie. While some people were disappointed that our guys didn’t walk away with the win, I’ll be honest: I was glad it was a tie. It harkened back to a day when a regular-season game *could* end in a tie.

Tied, 3-3

Tied, 3-3

The game was followed by pictures. I was a little bummed when the players’ backs were to us for the group shot,

philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni hockey game 2017

but then they turned around and I freaked out!

Shot of the alumni

Shot of the alumni

I loved watching some of the guys break up for smaller group photos.

philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni game philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni game

There’s one more song I wrote as a kid. Might as well share it. Sung (obviously) to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” it’s “Take Me Out to the Flyers.”

Take me out to see hockey,
Take me out to the crowds.
Buy me some peanuts and cheese French fries,
I don’t care if the puck hits my eye.
For it’s root, root, root for the Flyers;
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
‘Cuz if you don’t score lots of goals,
You lose the game.

Anyway, everyone…I hate to use an overused word to describe the Alumni game, but it was, in fact, legendary.

A few more pics:

I'm fortunate to have personally witnessed a bench-clearing brawl in the Spectrum. billy barber philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni game lindros philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni game philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni hockey game 2017 dave poulin philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni hockey game 2017 dave schulz philadelphia flyers 50th anniversary alumni hockey game 2017 bobby clarke

flyers 50th anniversary alumni game flyers 50th anniversary alumni game

 

And some memorabilia from our bar at home…

Probably my first real crush.

Probably my first real crush, may he RIP.

I loved Pelle Lindbergh, RIP.

I loved Pelle Lindbergh, may he RIP.

our bar flyers memorabilia

our bar flyers memorabilia

our bar flyers memorabilia

our bar flyers memorabilia

Love you guys…

Let’s go, Flyers!

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Category: Author Blog, FAMILY, Shits & Giggles, Uncategorized, US Travel

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of paranoia. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking. When she's not thinking, she's watching the news. When she's ambiguous, it's intentional.

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