1. Working as a Team
The Flyers Alumni tour of Russia was the brainchild of Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Joe Watson.
"I was wanting to do this for a long time, ever since [Russia-based natural gas export company] Gazprom sent a team to Philadelphia. But it was over the last year or so that I was really working on putting this together, and we pulled it off. Brad Marsh helped out as well," Watson explained.
Marsh, the longtime Flyers defenseman and now the Flyers director of community development as well as the president of the Flyers Alumni Association, saw the trip as an opportunity to represent the Flyers brand internationally and also an opportunity to get together with fellow hockey people.
"To me, this trip had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the hockey and the people. We saw some guys we knew from before, and met some new ones, as well. But the best part, quite honestly, was getting out there and being reminded of what hockey -- and the Flyers, because that crest was recognized everywhere -- means to people around the world," Marsh said.
The tour stops and rosters were coordinated by Scott MacPherson and Chuck Borge.
The Flyers took a nine-player contingent to Russia: Watson, Marsh, Jeff Chychrun, Terry Carkner, Shjon Podein, Al Secord, Lindsay Carson, Chase Watson (Joe's nephew and the son of Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Jim) and AHL Hall of Fame goaltender Freddy Cassivi. Both Cassivi and Chase Watson are regulars in Flyers Alumni games around the Delaware Valley, although neither played for the Flyers.
During the tour, the Flyers Alumni were supplemented by a variety of players arranged primarily through MacPherson. These included many former NHL players such as Bobby Carpenter, Andrei Nikolishin and Flyers Alum forward Andrei Kovalenko. Ex-NHLer Alexander Semak played in the Kazan and St. Petersburg games, while Kovalenko was in St. Petersburg and Moscow.
The Flyers team also had defenseman Sergey Gimayev, a longtime Red Army and Soviet national team player who today is a national hockey commentator on Russian TV.