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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 8:23 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Remembering Brad McCrimmon

PHILADELPHIA -- Brad McCrimmon made his mark on many players all over the NHL during his 18 seasons as a player as well as his coaching career. It was that coaching career that took him to the Lokomotiv team in Russia this year, and led to his tragic death in September's plane crash.

McCrimmon spent five seasons with the Flyers, and in today's Alumni Game, his presence was felt as each player had a No. 10 patch on their left shoulder.

"About a month ago I requested to do it and the entire organization thought it would be a great idea," said Mark Howe, McCrimmon's defense partner for three seasons during which the Flyers went to the Stanley Cup Final twice. "Brad was a very important part of the team in the '80s and a dear friend to a lot of people in the locker room and it was only fitting he be remembered as part of the team."

The players certainly were proud to do something to memorialize McCrimmon.

"Brad McCrimmon was a tough loss for all of us," said Rick Tocchet. "For me especially. He was one of the main reasons I stuck in the NHL. I sat beside him in the locker room. He was a big part of my life, teaching me how to be a pro."

Contact Adam Kimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 8:11 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Desjardins soaking it all in

PHILADELPHIA -- When Eric Desjardins walked out of the dugout for today's Alumni Game, he wanted to make sure he remembered every second of it.

"I had the iPhone from my son," Desjardins told NHL.com. "I wanted to have memories. Sometimes there are so many things going on, it's tough to get it all in. I wanted to have something to look after and remind me I was here."

Desjardins put in his usual solid effort, playing 14:52, and didn't look much different from the player who spent 17 seasons in the NHL, his final 11 with the Flyers.

"It felt great," he said of the reaction he received from the fans. "It was a lot of fun. Not only to come back and play for the Flyers, but outdoors like this in the big stadium, it was a great feeling."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 8:06 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

No little save for Little

PHILADELPHIA -- Growing up in Medicine Hat, Alta., Neil Little admitted he was a fan of the dynasty Edmonton Oilers teams of the 1980s. He got an up-close look at one member of that dynasty in today's Alumni Game when Glen Anderson had a penalty shot in the third period.

Anderson, who scored 498 goals on his way to a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame, broke in alone, but Little -- who played two NHL games -- got his shoulder on the shot, knocking it high and wide.

"Yeah, how about that?" Little told NHL.com. "That was enjoyable."

Little stopped 11 of 12 shots he faced in just over 27 minutes of action. While he never got a long run in the NHL, he's been a part of the Flyers' organization as a player and scout for all but one season in Finland since 1993.

"That was special," Little said after the game. "I was a little nervous off the bat, but that's to be expected. After that it was fantastic. Just soaked it up and enjoyed the moment.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 5:19 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Flyers win, Flyers win, Flyers win

Glenn Anderson got a penalty shot opportunity with 5:01 to play due to a Flyers penalty, but Neil Little came up with an arm save to keep the puck out and preserve the Flyers 3-1 lead.

The Rangers tested Little a few more times before time finally wore out and the home team walked off the field with a 3-1 victory.

New York eventually pulled goalie Dan Blackburn with just over a minute left, but it didn't work.

The crowd of 45,808 thoroughly enjoyed the alumni game today. It was fun to watch from the press box, too.

If I had to give out three stars, they'd go to:

1. Bernie Parent -- 6 saves in four minutes, stole the show early

2. Dan Blackburn -- Tremendous game from the guy who had his career cut short due to injury

3. Shjon Podein -- Used his plethora of ice time well and scored a goal

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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 5:09 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Under seven minutes left, Flyers lead

Time winding down here and the Rangers need a goal.

It remains 3-1 with under eight minutes left and the chants of "Let's go Flyers" are coming from the first base side of the stands.

Give these guys credit, they're still going hard with now under seven minutes to play.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 5:01 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Howe converts on penalty shot, Flyers lead 3-1

The third penalty shot of the game was given to Mark Howe, and the Hall of Famer delivered the Flyers a 3-1 lead with 15 and a half minutes left in the third period.

Howe was hooked on his way to the net by Kypreos, who earlier in the game failed on a penalty shot. Howe showed his hands by freezing Dan Blackburn, who apparently cana give up a goal, before firing a forehanded shot right past him.

The clock is ticking down, bleeding to under 14 minutes left, and the Flyers have themselves a comfortable yet feared two-goal lead.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 4:38 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Podein shows hands, misses penalty shot

Nick Fotiu wrapped his stick around the midsection of Shjon Podein as he was attempting to shoot, setting up another penalty shot, this time with 2:15 left in the second period.

Podein made a deke to his backhand and had Blackburn down, but he lifted the puck high over the crossbar and into the glass.

Blackburn is just too good right now to be scored on.

The best moment, though, was when Fotiu acted as if he did nothing wrong. There has never been a more blatant hook in the game of hockey.

The second period is now over with the Flyers alums clinging to a 2-1 lead over the Rangers alums. At the end of the period they announced an attendance of 45,808.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 4:32 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Rangers get one back

The Rangers have gotten one back to make it 2-1, and it's Glenn Anderson getting the credit.

Darius Kasparaitis delivered a shot-pass in the direction of Brian Leetch, but Anderson got his stick on it and deflected the puck past Flyers goalie Neil Little at the 9:25 mark of the second period.

It appears the Rangers are motivated by the impressive play of Dan Blackburn.

TV timeout now with 5:48 left in the second period.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 4:28 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Blackburn giving star performance

Dan Blackburn didn't have a long career in the NHL, and in the second period here he's looking like he's making up for some missed opportunities.

Blackburn just made a sprawling kick save on a one-timer from Jeremy Roenick. He went from his left to right, went down on his left hip, kicked up his right leg and kep the puck out of the net.

Minutes later, Blackburn read the pass from John Leclair to Mark Recchi on a 2-on-1, and he came across, this time from his right to left, to make another tremendous pad save.

Blackburtn is swimming all over his crease, but the Flyers can't seem to beat him. He's the only reason the Rangers alumni aren't getting blown out here.

It's still 2-0. Blackburn gets a star by his name.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 4:20 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Kypreos needs some penalty shot practice

The second period started much like the first, with the Rangers owning the territorial advantage. Except, this time there was no Bernie Parent to be the story.

Rangers goalie Dan Blackburn was instead the story early with a big-time split save with the left pad on Ken Linseman, who is wearing goggles for glasses, a new fashion statement that probably won't catch on in today's NHL.

Kerry Fraser whistled for a slashing penalty on Eric Lindros, who whacked Nick Kypreos' stick in the corner. Instead of getting a power play, Kypreos got a penalty shot opportunity, but Mark LaForest was up to the task, making a pad save to preserve the Flyers 2-0 lead with more than 15 minutes left in the period.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 3:51 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Make it 2-0 Flyers, Keenan must be steaming

The Flyers grabbed a 2-0 lead on a goal by Shjon Podein at 12:15 of the first period.

Rick Tocchet came in almost alone, but he fanned on his backhand. The puck was loose in the slot and Podein cleaned it up.

The FLyers are getting outshot, 14-4, but they've got the 2-0 lead with 5:54 to play in the first period.

Ron Duguay has to still be kicking himself. Seriously, he couldn't score on a breakaway against a 66-year-old goalie.

Word is Mike Keenan is planning a bag skate for tomorrow's practice.

Or, at least he would be if there was a practice.






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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 3:48 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

It's Doomsday again for Rangers

The Rangers felt the Doom again.

Eric Lindros and John Leclair teamed up to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 9:40 of the first period.

Mark Recchi freed up the break down the right side by knocking Darius Kasparaitis out of the play. Lindros then got around another Ranger and went in for a 2-on-1 with Leclair.

Lindros waited until he was almost through the right circle before feathering a pass over to Leclair. He tapped it into the net to give the Flyers the lead.

The fans, as you can imagine, went nuts. But, how many of them were wishing it was Mikael Renberg and not Recchi on the ice?

That's no offense to Recchi, it's just with Renberg the Legion of Doom would be complete. Renberg is tending to other obligations and couldn't be here.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 3:42 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

LaForest is no slouch either

Bernie Parent's replacement, Mark LaForest, made a quick impact with two pretty fantastic saves, especially for a guy who is 49 years old.

He made a kick save on Mark Messier and a snapping glove save on Darren Turcotte.

The game is 8:02 old and is in its first TV timeout. It's scoreless, but the Rangers are leading 9-2 in shots.

The Flyers, though, are leading in memorable moments thanks to Parent.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 3:36 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Parent has still got it

It took less than a minute for Bernie Parent to face his first test. He had to sprawl his not-so-limber 66-year-old body out to make a save.

Then, just over two minutes into the game, Ron Duguay, broke loose on a breakaway, but Parent came up with a pad save. He didn't have to go down to the ice for that one.

The fans loved it. Parent has still got it.

And, four minutes into the game, Parent said he had had enough. He took himself out and was replaced by Mark LaForest.

Parent took a quick twirl in front of the bench as if he was the game's first star. You know what, in a way he is already. The guy made five saves, including stoning Duguay on that breakaway.

Duguay will never live that one down.



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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 3:33 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Smith-Hart kick it off

The now famous version of "God Bless America" featuring Lauren Hart singing live and Kate Smith on the scoreboard from 1974 kicked off the alumni game here.

The fans, as expected, went bonkers when Smith was shown on the scoreboard singing the second stanza of the song. Hart stood patiently on the stage built over top home plate, waiting for her second part.

The opening faceoff was taken between Mark Messier and Bob Clarke. Clarke won the draw, and the alumni game started.

Remember, three 20-minute periods with running time and two 12-minute intermissions.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 3:24 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Players are introduced, Lindros gets huge ovation

They just showed a video montage with The Wallflowers "They Can Be Heroes" dubbed in. The fans here cheered when they saw all their favorite Flyers, and most loudly when they saw Eric Lindros.

A pair of drum cores are now banging away on the outfield stages built to resemble hockey sticks. One group is wearing Flyers jerseys while the other is in Rangers jerseys.

They've also brought out banners with the images of all the alumni playing in the game and more than two dozen people are holding them over the auxiliary rink. They then turned over the banners and revealed a sign that reads, "WE'RE BACK FOR YOU."

There are also roughly 20 flag bearers in front of each dugout.

Philadelphia native and ex-Rangers goalie Mike Richter was welcomed as an assistant coach with Mike Keenan. After Dan Blackburn was announced, Bernie Parent was welcomed by a huge ovation and the chants of "Bernie, Bernie, Bernie."

Brian Leetch came out of the visiting dugout after John Vanbiesbrouck, and he was summarily booed.

The rest of the introductions continued with Mark Howe, Chris Therrien, Bill Barber, Brad Marsh and Mark Recchi coming out before a rousing ovation for John Leclair.

There hasn't been much love for the Rangers here (the place, after all, is covered in orange), but Mark Messier got a nice welcome.

The Watson brothers, Joe and Jim, were introduced together. How sweet.

Bob Clarke got a loud ovation, but it seemed that the one Bernie Parent got had more volume to it.

Rick Tocchet, who has also become a TV celebrity in Philadelphia, as well as Brian Propp, Orest Kindrachuk, Reggie Leach, and Kjell Samuelsson.

Paul Broten was the last Ranger to be introduced, but there were still six more Flyers.

The loudest ovation was saved for the last second to last guy, Mr. Eric Lindros, No. 88. He got the longest and loudest welcome back to Philly of all his alumni teammates.

NHL.com blogger Jeremy Roenick had to wait in the dugout for Lindros' ovation to end before he could be called out to the ice.

Flyers owner, the only one they'v ever had, Ed Snider, dropped the ceremonial first puck between Clarke and Messier.

Time for the anthems and the game.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:49 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Here's the game format

We just got word that the alumni will play three 20-minute periods with running time. There will be two 12-minute intermissions.

The warmups just ended here and the teams have left the ice. The ice crew is back on the sheet now, shoveling up and down the ice in unison.

It's like watching synchronized skating with shovels. They will not be bringing out the Zamboni machines to clean the surface before the start of the game.

Bob Clarke happened to be the last Flyers alumni leaving the ice and he got a rousing ovation as he stepped into the home dugout.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:37 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Rangers, Flyers alumni hit the ice for warmups

The Rangers alumni hit the ice at 2:30 on the nose to a chorus of boos. For those tracking at home, John Vanbiesbrouck led the team onto the ice, so he'll be getting the start from coach Mike Keenan.

The Flyers came on right after and as you can imagine, the cheers were quite audible.

This place is filling up and it's basically a sea of orange. Then again, so is the ice as the Flyers have 29 players while the Rangers have 22.

The in-house camera found Bernie Parent and his face went on the scoreboard above the left field stands, causing another huge ovation here.

It's pretty amazing that this is all for an alumni game. Seriously, can half of these guys even skate anymore to do this? Parent, who is 66, isn't bending down to stop any shots.

Today's NHL goaltending coaches wouldn't know what to do with this guy. He'd be shipped back to the ECHL.

Then there are guys like Mark Recchi, who is wearing No. 8 for the Flyers. The guy won the Stanley Cup in June. Is it fair that he's playing?

Heck yeah it is. This ought to be pretty fun.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:09 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Ballpark filling up for some old-time hockey

The kids have been playing shinny on the auxiliary rink since just before 1 p.m. Citizens Bank Park started filling up with fans about a half-hour later. The band playing outside in Spectator Plaza has been heard loud and clear inside the ballpark since noon. Right now they're belting out some Pearl Jam.

It's quite the scene here at the Phillies home park. After nearly two weeks of non-stop construction, the place is finally filling up for a hockey game.

The Molson Canadian 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game is set to begin in about an hour, and it is expected to be played in front of roughly 47,000 fans. Yes it's an exhibition and supposed to be fun, but try telling that to the fans here in Philly and the ones who came down from New York.

These are their old heroes battling their old enemies, and to them this is real.

Jeremy Roenick is doing his best to fuel the fire over Twitter. Roenick, whose Twitter name is @Jeremey_Roenick, tweeted, "Steph Matteau is in my sights.. Heads up today. Who else needs to get hit..." just after noon. He also mentioned how great it is that Eric Lindros is "lacin' them up today."

Lindros is here and ready to reunite with old Legion of Doom linemate John Leclair. The LCB line of Reggie Leach, Bob Clarke and Bill Barber will be together again.

Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Glenn Anderson, Stephane Matteau, Nick Kypreos -- members of New York's '94 Cup-winning team -- are all back together again. Mike Keenan and Colin Campbell will be joined on the bench by the legendary Emile Francis.

Dan Craig and his crew are pulling the insulated tarps off the ice and the sun has almost faded completed into the distance. You know the Alumni Game is going to start soon because this is the live blog for it, and now we're live.
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