Here at the Orange Update we try to give our readers a unique take on everything Flyers, and while I’m sure a large portion of you would love to read endlessly about CBA negotiations I’m not going to talk about that not now anyway.
Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic or maybe I’m completely sick of hearing about revenue sharing and Gary Bettman. Whatever the case may be, let’s call this an introduction of sorts to one of the new guys here at The Orange Update. I’m Frank Vuotto and I approve this blog.
My earliest memories of Flyers hockey are blurry pieces of the 1997 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In particular, Game 3 of the Cup Finals, a game in which the Flyers lost 6-1 at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings. What I remember most was my dad picking me up from my grandmothers house saying John LeClair scored and the Flyers were winning 1-0. By the time I got home they were down 3-1. They wouldn’t win a game in that series. The Red Wings blew right past the “Legion of Doom” (the Flyers top scoring line consisting of Eric Lindros, John LeClair, and Mikael Renberg). What I remember most about 97′ though is the excitement within the city, seeing all of the Flyers posters in the windows and riding up Broad St. seeing Billy Penn wearing that orange jersey atop City Hall, it awed me, I was enthralled and a fan for life at that moment. Winning or losing that series didn’t matter because I was already drawn in and I didn’t understand what a best of 7 playoff series was anyway. None of that mattered. I fell in love with the game, the fans, and the color orange. My favorite player, of course, was Eric Lindros and he’s one of many reasons why I love hockey. The way Lindros played the game made me want to go outside and play street hockey with my friends and that’s exactly what I did everyday when I got home from school.
I remember 1998 losing to Buffalo and I remember 1999 losing to Toronto both in the Quarterfinals.
I remember the 2002 playoffs against the Senators and Game 1 going to overtime. I prayed the Flyers would win. I remember saying to myself “God please let the Flyers win tonight even if they lose 4 straight after this”. I blame myself, the Flyers lost 4 straight after winning game 1.
My most prevalent memories of Flyers hockey started during the 1999-2000 season. I was 9 years old just starting to understand the difference between winning and losing. The pain! I remember the day Rod Brind’Amour was traded for Keith Primeau, I’m not ashamed to say I cried. I hated watching my heroes be traded away for new players and Roddy was one of my favorites. My first real memory of Primeau was of course the 5 overtime thriller at Mellon Arena against Pittsburgh in the Semi-Finals. I remember it was a school night and the game was headed for overtime so I was sent to bed, luckily there was a TV in my bedroom. I fell asleep on the floor next to the TV, all 13 inches of the darn thing. I woke up to hear Flyers play-by-play announcer Jim Jackson screaming “He Scores He Scores Keith Primeau!!!!!” I thought it was a highlight show but what I saw was very much LIVE TV! Amazing! Amazing that the game lasted that long, amazing that it was Primeau who scored, and amazing that I was fortunate enough to have be able to catch that moment.
I remember Andy Delmore’s hat trick the very next game. I remember the Flyers losing game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to New Jersey on Mother’s Day.
The Flyers went on to take a 3-1 series lead against the Devils, just one win from the Stanley Cup Finals!
Then the Devils happened! Just like that, it was over, 3 straight losses. I remember the bottle of soda that I bought just before game 7 so I could shake it up and spray it all over my friends who would be waiting triumphantly outside. It never happened, the Devils ripped my heart out. How could something that makes you so happy turn and depress you in an instant? It’s all apart of the game they’ll tell you but when you’re young it just hurts beyond belief because you don’t fully understand. Every time the Flyers lost a game I thought something was wrong either the refs made a bad call or maybe the other team cheated! I learned young blaming the officials! A true Flyers fan.
When the 2004 playoffs began I remember wanting revenge against New Jersey so badly. I remember Danny Markov scoring late in game 5 on Broduer, a softy off the inside of the post. I remember Sami Kapanen’s empty net goal from center ice to clinch the series against the defending champions. Euphoria!
I remember being at the Phillies during Game 5 against Toronto and my friend taking my phone away from me so I couldn’t see the score of the game that was happening right across the parking lot. I remember Darcy Tucker leveling Sami Kapanen and I remember Jeremy Roenick’s snipe past Ed Belfour to send the Flyers back to the Eastern Finals. I still know Jim Jackson entire goal call for Roenick’s winner and I had it memorized before YouTube became a global sensation.
I remember game 6 against Tampa Bay in the Conference Finals when Primeau tied the game late in third period, I remember getting phone calls from friends screaming on the other line and then I remember Simon Gagne’s winning goal in Overtime to send the series 7 games. I remember my mom buying me a portable radio to listen in for game 7 while I was at the Phillies game that very night. I remember Kim Johnson scoring the Flyers only goal but what I remember most is John LeClair’s post game interview and the pain in his eyes, I felt that pain to my very core. I still feel it.
I remember 2006 when R.J. Umberger was hit by Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell in game 1 of the Quarter Finals. He was motionless on the ice. I remember his goal in game 4 of that series and I remember how that made me feel, I felt like I was the one who was hit and I felt like that goal belonged to me. I’m sure collectively, as a fan base, we all felt that way.
I remember finishing dead last in the standings the very next season. I remember trading Peter Forsberg and then the summer that followed. Signing Danny Briere and trading for Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell. The building blocks were in place.
I remember Scottie Upshall and Joffrey Lupul scoring huge goals against New Jersey on the second to last day of the 07-08 season to help clinch a playoff spot. I remember game 7 overtime against Washington, Joffrey Lupul and the pile of Flyers jumping on top of him to celebrate. I remember Mike Knuble scoring on an empty net in Montreal to yet again put the Flyers in the Conference finals.
I remember skipping out on a family party to be alone to watch game 82 in 2010 against the Rangers. Brian Boucher stopping Oli Jokinen in the shootout sent me screaming “PLAYOFFS”! I remember my hands were shaking trying to call my brother who was working that day. I was in attendance for Game 4 against the Devils and I remember Danny Briere blowing a slap shot past Brodeur to give the Flyers the lead for good. I was in house at the Wachovia Center (Wells Fargo now) viewing party to watch these Flyers make history and complete the 0-3 comeback. I remember Simon Gagne scoring and then a pile of fans on top of me and then watching the agonizing final minutes tick away. My hands covered my eyes every time the Bruins shot the puck, my heart never raced quite like it did that night. To be there, to be a part of something like that? There was no better feeling it was just mind blowing. I still can’t believe that something like that could happen to my favorite team when all I was used to was the exact opposite. I remember leaving the Center that night slapping every hand I could find. I remember watching Comcast Sports Net the next morning to find myself on TV cheering the Flyers to victory.
You can find me on the far right in the white jersey.
I remember Mike Richards and Jaroslav Halak and Aaron Asham and Jeff Carter and Michael Leighton. I remember the Prince of Wales Trophy and Richie carrying it to the locker room. I will never forget this. Thinking back on that experience, on those feelings, I just wish I could go back and watch it again, not knowing what was about to happen.
I remember Ville Leino tying Game 3 of the Cup Finals and I remember Claude Giroux deflecting in the winner in overtime. I remember Scott Hartnell sending game 6 to overtime. I remember Patrick Kane.
In many ways 2010 was like a reprise of 1997. All of the memories came flooding back. The posters in the windows and car flags and people wearing Flyers t-shirts. The excitement that originally brought me to love the Flyers was again right before my eyes. Regardless of the outcome it was quite a ride that year. The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs made clear to me why I love this hockey team, it made watching the 2006-2007 season worth my time as a paying fan and now a blogger.
Winning the Stanley Cup would only ice that cake.
We here at The Orange Update would love to hear your stories. How did you become a fan of the Flyers?
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