David Strehle covers the Philadelphia Flyers for NHL Hot Stove and he may be one of the most welcoming and easily likable people on Twitter. He is also a diehard fan of the Flyers. Below, he gives us the five reasons he loves the Flyers.
5. The fans
In all sports, there are fans of teams that are described as loyal and even passionate. Philadelphia sports fans in general have a certain stigma throughout the sports world, but Philly hockey fans take the meaning of “fan” to another level. The Flyers faithful have been named the craziest in the NHL by The Hockey News, and they might just be the most rabid in any sport in support of their beloved team. Many opposition players have mentioned through the years how tough it is to play in Philadelphia - whether it was at the old Spectrum, or the new building, in any of it’s multitude of names it has carried in the 15 years of existence. The crowd at Flyers games act as an extra skater on the ice for the home team, they are just that loud. Philadelphia fans are among the most-knowledgeable in all of hockey, and will let a player or official know their collective feelings when it is necessary.
4. Gene Hart
When I moved back to the Philadelphia area from Buffalo, I promised my best friend that I would never root for the Flyers. That became an impossibility after watching and listening to the game broadcasts. Hart loved hockey, the city, and especially the Flyers, and it showed through his call of each and every game. The emotion and knowledge that he brought just reinforced my love for the game and made me thirst for more. Gene was a true gentleman and would occasionally come out of the booth during intermissions to talk to fans along the concourse of the Spectrum. One of my great memories in that building was when some friends from Buffalo came to a game and Hart came out in the one intermission and spoke at length with us about the game and the two teams. While my friends remained loyal to the Sabres, they still to this day mention the time that he made them feel at home in one of the most feared buildings in hockey history. That was how Hart made you feel, even just listening to his call of the games - like you were a part of the Flyers’ family.
3. The attitude of the franchise
While some NHL teams just hope to turn a profit and maybe even have a winning season in the process, the goal of the Flyers organization is to win the Stanley Cup – and that holds true for every single season. From Ed Snider on down, it has been that way since the inception of the franchise. Watching the Flyers for 30+ years now, I have seen firsthand the moves the team has made in order to try and bring Lord Stanley back to Philly. Before the salary cap was put into effect the Flyers were always at the upper echelon of salary payrolls in the league, and that was because they spared no expense in their quest to win it all. I constantly hear fans of other teams complaining because the GM of their favorite club hasn’t done anything to improve their team for years, and I always feel both lucky and grateful for the Flyers’ efforts.
2. The players
Hockey players in general are some of the most talented athletes in the world. Just imagine having to not only play the sport, but do so while skating on ice. And hockey players are the most dedicated to their trade of any professional sport. Playing through serious injury is a regular routine for many, and the Flyers have had their share. Through the years, they have had many heart-and-soul, win at all cost types that leave nothing on the ice, and that’s one of the biggest things that drew me to become a fan. Bobby Clarke was one of the all-time great hustlers and set the example for the franchise to follow. Another perfect example was the total exhaustion and agony of having lost exhibited by Ron Hextall after the team had given it their all but lost Game 7 of the 1987 Finals.
1. The history
For a team to have the second-highest winning percentage in NHL history, there has to be some fantastic years throughout their past. For the Flyers, that is exactly the case. Some great seasons: Kate Smith and the Broad Street Bullies years and two-time Stanley Cup champions of the mid-70′s, the 35-game unbeaten streak team of 1980, the mid-80′s Mike Keenan teams that made the Finals twice, the Eric Lindros / Legion of Doom teams, and last year’s club that came back from 0-3 to the Bruins and fell just two wins short of claiming their third Cup. I didn’t get to see the mid-70′s Cup years, I first began watching the team during the 1980 “streak” season, and it has been a wild ride. And I still get chills thinking about some of the incredible moments I have had the privilege to witness – Dave Poulin’s two-man shorthanded goal in Game 6 of the 1985 semis against Quebec; J.J. Daigneault’s goal to win Game 6 of the 1987 Finals against Edmonton; Keith Primeau’s tying goal in Game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay; “The Shift” by Mike Richards in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal; Claude Giroux’ overtime goal against Chicago in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals last year.
The Five Reasons to Love the Flyers feature was inspired by the Five Reasons I Love Hockey feature on the Puck Daddy blog. This column should run biweekly on Thursdays. If you are a diehard Flyers fan and would like to submit your list of reasons to love the Flyers, contact us.