Asking why I love the Flyers is like asking why I love my parents.
Prior to this moment I don’t recall knowing what hockey or the Flyers were. It was 1987 and I was in kindergarten. My father wasn’t really into sports, he was the outdoorsy type – fishing, outdooring – so my exposure to the 4 main sports was minimum (I did play soccer only to quit by age 8 like every other American child). One day while I was playing in the dirt on my small NE Philly street an object caught my eye. It was a wooden stick with a plastic blade with the letters M-Y-L-E-C across it. I picked it up and did what came natural: I smacked rocks. I eventually learned that a professional sports team called the Flyers used similar sticks to play hockey. From that time on I was hooked.
As a person suffering from the incurable disability of Colorblindness, I tend to be attracted to colors that I can actually see. Purple and blue I can’t really tell the difference. Certain shades of brown and red, please send help. But orange and black, I can see and enjoy and love. In my mind there is no better color combination than orange and black. The contrast. The complementariness. My love for the Flyers, the orange and the black, inspired me during my early teens to even have orange and black rubber bands on my braces.
22, 18, 2
When I started playing organized hockey in first grade – foot hockey then ice a few years later – I of course needed a number for my jersey. And like any kid I looked to my favorite player for inspiration. But unlike other teams, at least to my confirmation bias, the Flyers enjoy keeping things interesting and often traded my favorite player. I started at as #22 thanks to Rick Tocchet. He was traded, then I went to #18, Mike Ricci. Then he was traded and I went with an unlikely favorite #2 Dmitri Yushkevich. After Dmitri was traded I decided to pick my own number because I couldn’t keep up with the Flyers and their trades and my hockey number.
As child and young teen I was obsessed with hockey history. In grade school I borrowed the same 4 dusty, old hockey books from 1960 from my school’s library on library day. I learned about the Rocket, Bobby Hull, Boom Boom Geoffrion. These books were pre-expansion, so no Flyers. But I was lucky enough that my local Blockbuster carried a few Flyers History VHS’. I loved being able to watch the storied Broad Street Bullies win the Stanley Cup with my own eyes even if it was years later. I learned about the Cold War and developed irrational hatred for Russia when I studied the tape of the Flyers vs Red Army. Although the franchise may lean on its’ history as a crutch today (IT WORKED IN ‘74 IT WILL WORK IN 14!), the Flyers history is fascinating.
I never played goalie for a team, but I would often step in as goalie for pick-up street hockey. And even if the structural integrity of the white, pvc, mylec net was in question I could not fight the urge to do my best impression of Hextall rapping his goal stick on the net. I was/is a big Hextall fan. He made being slightly crazy okay. I was heartbroken when he was traded but rejoiced when he came back. I see his special set of skill and a-touch-of-insanity the epitome of Flyers hockey.