Remembering the last Philly All-Star Game

The National Hockey League selected Philadelphia to host the All-Star Game in 1976 and 1992.

In the first year, the club was in the throes of its glory, on the way to a third straight Stanley Cup Finals appearance and fresh off the vanquishing of the hated Soviets. It also didn’t hurt that it was the American Bicentennial, and as such, Major League Baseball selected Philly for its Mid-Summer Classic and the NCAA chose the Quaker City to host the Final Four.

But by the latter, the Flyers were a shadow of their former selves, in the midst of a record five seasons without a playoff berth, trolling for last place in the Patrick Division, and one of the least-potent offenses in the league. It was painful for the youth who had grown up on the fat of the successes of the 1980s to find the host city in such a sad state. My Dad even offered to buy tickets and I had the good sense to decline. I was 14.

Rod Brind’Amour was the lone representative for the Orange and Black, and this was not in the time of “one player from every team gets to go to make it fair.” He was having a breakout season in his third full NHL campaign.

 

Yes, this is NBC. And yesssss! that is indeed Marv Albert. The same national network which currently has a TV contract with the league but which has not yet broadcasted an All-Star Game since the original deal was struck in 2005. In a weird inversion, The Peacock held the rights to the ASG from 1990 through 1994 while there was no consistent over-the-air network deal to broadcast any other NHL games in either the regular season or playoffs. SportsChannel, it of the constant and irritating dial-tone, held the rights.

It was also the 75th anniversary of the league that year, and the brain-trust went completely batshit with the uniform design, something out of an acid-soaked nightmare crafted from a rotating barbershop sign. But in the midst of the madness was the calm, erudite emcee, Mike “Doc” Emrick. Emrick was in year four of a five-year stint as television play-by-play for the Flyers, and the obvious choice for pre-game ceremonies.

 

 

Adding insult to injury, the Wales Conference came up on the wrong end of a 10-6 decision to the Campbell Conference. Brind’Amour failed to record a point, but there were a combined seven players who would go on to play for the Flyers within the next batch of years. It was also the last mid-season celebration before the reign of Gary Bettman commenced. John Ziegler was serving out the last year of his tenure.

Now that the Flyers have enjoyed a roughly two-decade stretch of consistently good play, it’s time for the All-Star Game to return. I’d trade the Frozen Four for the ASG here in a microsecond. As awful as it sounds, since the “downtown” area where the stadia are located is permanently detached from the activity center of the city, the “Xfinity Live!” project may be the linchpin necessary to lure the game back.

I mean, no sense in waiting for the 200th anniversary of the Act of Consolidation or the Tricentennial, right? I want it all, and I want it now…or at least within the next 5-7 years.