PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday celebrated some of the greatest players to wear their uniform on the first of five heritage nights scheduled for their 50th anniversary season, this one celebrating the members of the Flyers Hall of Fame.
Hockey Hall of Famers Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, Bill Barber and Mark Howe, as well as Eric Lindros, who will be inducted Nov. 14, were among the 14 Flyers Hall of Fame members in attendance.
Seven players from the Flyers' Stanley Cup championship teams in 1974 and 1975 -- Clarke, Parent, Barber, Reggie Leach, Dave Schultz, Jimmy Watson and Joe Watson -- were among those on the ice before the game against the Arizona Coyotes. Defenseman Barry Ashbee, who played on the 1974 team, was represented by his widow, Donna, and Danielle MacLeish stood in for her late father, Rick MacLeish, who scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal against the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the 1974 Cup Final and also was on the 1975 team.
Also honored were Brian Propp, Ron Hextall, Dave Poulin, Rod Brind'Amour and John LeClair.
Although just a few of the honored guests live in the Philadelphia area, it didn't take much to convince the ones who lived farther away to come to town.
"There's a lot of demands on your time and a lot of different things," said Poulin, captain of the Flyers during Stanley Cup Final appearances in 1985 and 1987. "It's busy for everybody. Everybody's got different things going on in their life. But when this call comes in from [Flyers alumni association president] Brad Marsh, you're marking it on the calendar and you're coming. It's pretty special to be out there with that group tonight."
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Among those coming a distance was Brind'Amour, a Carolina Hurricanes assistant coach who played nine of his 20 NHL seasons with the Flyers. The Hurricanes have a home game against the New York Rangers on Friday, but Brind'Amour said it was easy for him to make the trip north.
"It's Philadelphia," he said. "It means a lot to me."
Brind'Amour was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame last season and said that night ended any acrimony he might have held for the organization dating to when he was traded to the Hurricanes during the 1999-2000 season.
"I was out of it, doing my own thing, and last year when they did that whole ceremony for me, it just brought me into the fold," Brind'Amour said. "This is important. And that day showed they really did appreciate what I did here. There was a time where I didn't think that was the case. It meant a lot to me to be back here in the fold.
"You get traded, you automatically think I'm not what I thought I was, but that wasn't the case. I got a great phone call before [founding owner Ed] Snider passed and him telling me what he thought I meant to this team, it meant a lot. I really feel connected to the Flyers organization again. I'll take any chance I can to get back here and be part of it."