A little girl sits high up at the Spectrum and plays with her Barbie dolls while her father dominates in goal below. Fast forward to 35 years later — that same girl sits with her young children, and watches her father, now a legend, take the ice one more time.
“The feeling when he stepped onto the ice, and the chants and ovation he got… just watching him out there was amazing. It was a great experience for me and the kids.”
Kim Parent was just a year old when her father, Bernie, led the Flyers to their first of two consecutive Stanley Cup wins. That year, the elder Parent shared the Vezina Trophy with Chicago’s Tony Esposito (in that era, the award was given to the goaltenders who gave up the fewest goals) and won the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP.
Even though Kim doesn’t remember much from watching her father play when she was younger, she had the wonderful opportunity to see him do so this past January, at the 2012 Winter Classic Alumni Game. She and her family were able to partake in some activities leading up to the game, making the event even more memorable.
The two weeks before the Classic were a whirlwind for Kim. She got to attend some practices and see some of the old players and their families, as well as watch her own father in practice, which she admitted was very nerve-racking. Her brother, Bernie, got to practice with his father, a great experience for them both.
At the Flyers’ Christmas party, a lot of the current players were very excited for Parent’s return to the ice and talked to him about it, including Scott Hartnell and Ilya Bryzgalov.
“Watching my dad and Bryz interact was fun!” Parent’s daughter said. “Both of them with their accents and quirky personalities, it’s cute.”
On top of getting to watch her father practice and play, the Alumni Game gave Kim the chance to see former players and their families. Ron Hextall and his wife sat with Kim at the game, and she also got to catch up with former Flyers defenseman Ed Hospodar, whose daughters she used to babysit.
Of course, it was seeing her father between the pipes on that gray but mild afternoon at Citizens Bank Park that truly meant the most to Kim. And despite the few worries she had before the game started, it was an incredible day for father and daughter alike.
“As a daughter and ‘mother goose’ as my dad calls me, I worried like crazy. But, as usual, as soon as he skated onto the ice at the game, every instinct set in for him.”
Parent pitched a five-minute shutout to the old chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” and made three saves, including one on a breakaway by old Ranger nemesis Ron Duguay. The chants continued even after he skated off the ice to the bench, and he stepped off the bench to make a curtain call. It was a moment Flyers fans, both young and old, won’t soon forget.
The Alumni Game was a great experience for so many. Young fans that never got to watch Parent in his prime finally got their shot, including his grandchildren. Older fans got to see one of the best players to ever wear the Flyers colors take the ice one more time. And his family got to see their loved one right back where he always belonged and always excelled.
“The reception he got, the respect he got from players all over the league, it made me really happy, and it did the same for him,” Kim said. “The whole feeling was unbelievable.”