Flyers Hockey: The Fans

There are a number of different facets that make up the Flyers brand of hockey. In this series, we’ve discussed the team/style of play, the organization, and now it’s time to turn the focus to the fans — a group in a league all their own.

Flyers fans have gained a bad rep, and while it’s true that there are a select few who deserve it, the Flyers fanbase as a whole is an incredible group of people. Passionate, fiercely loyal, the people who rise and fall and live and die with a Flyers season. These are the people who never take down their Flyers flags, even in the dead of summer, the people who wear their Flyers shirts to Phillies games, the people who strike up conversations with strangers at Wawa just so they can talk about their favorite hockey team.

The fans are just as big a part of Flyers hockey as the team is, and they’re in a league all their own. To further explore what makes Flyers fans just so… special, we’ve asked a few local Flyers writers for their views. Read on!

 

Marcello De Feo, Flyers Faithful

When the Flyers were introduced to Philadelphians at a parade down Broad Street before their inaugural season, few people showed up. Those who did were either tourists, random passersby, or people giving the finger to the team.

One man allegedly shouted, “You bums will be in Baltimore by December.”

Today, the notion of a hockey team thriving in Baltimore over Philadelphia seems as far fetched as the thought of so few people showing up to greet some of the players who would eventually go on to become Stanley Cup legends in Philadelphia.

It was not always that way, though.

Professional hockey failed multiple times in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs before the Flyers came to town. The key ingredient that made this particular organization thrive was also the catalyst for what sets Philadelphia fans apart from fans of many other hockey teams.

And that is Ed Snider

Snider, who was not fully aware of the previously failed local hockey experiments when he scrambled and scraped together everything he could to bring a team to Philadelphia, is as much a dedicated fan as he is an invested owner. He is an emotional man who goes with his gut and is not afraid to speak his mind, give every last penny he has to put together a winning team, be loyal to a fault, and drastically and instantaneously change course when he feels that a mistake has been made.

Despite his wealth and status, he is every bit a blue collar fan and that hits home for Philadelphians.

While there are plenty of businesses that have luxury boxes and season tickets for the sole purpose of giving them away to clients, a large contingent of season ticket holders at the Wells Fargo Center are blue collar workers who work hard to put extra money aside to attend games and buy fan apparel.

When people sacrifice and give a great part of themselves to anything, they feel like a part of that team. Flyers fans, of course, are not the only ones who feel this symbiotic relationship with their team. It is, however, safe to say it is rare the fans and owner are equally invested and live and die with the team.

Anthony Mingioni, Sportsology & CenterIcePhilly

What sets Flyers fans apart? It’s the feeling that the franchise has been around as long as the Original Six teams. Philadelphia is a city steeped in amazing layers of history. If you peel the proverbial onion layers, there’s so much depth to it that no one book can really contain it. One gets the same feeling when it comes to the history of the local hockey club, even though it is the youngest of the four major sports franchises. When you peel back the layers, you find personal stories from fans who lived through the heydays of the franchise to the current era. They can recount the triumphs, heartbreaks (both on and off the ice), and everything in between and remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when those events happened. The Flyers are part of the fabric of the city, something that the fans can identify with. Even with higher prices on everything from season tickets to hockey gear, even when they’ve been locked out from the game they love…they still come. Some might look at that as gullibility. But it’s tough to ask someone to give up something that is so near and dear to them. They remain loyal and faithful. And hope for the day that their loyalty and their faith will be rewarded with the ultimate prize.

John Russo, The Checking Line-Flyers

Flyers fans are a different breed of fan for sure. One trait that sets them apart is the whole impatience factor. It’s not a bad trait for the most part. It’s been 40 years since they’ve seen a parade down Broad Street, so there’s a sense of urgency after every game or after every move that’s made.

Once that parade finally arrives, the impatience will easily go down. It’s an unmatched passion that’s only rivaled in a few other cities in the NHL such as Montreal, Toronto and Boston — the latter having recently won a championship.

*In the next segment of “Flyers Hockey”, we’ll continue to focus on the fans with a look at a family full of Flyers faithful.