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Flyers' Holmgren proud of team, fans at draft

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- With two days and seven rounds in the book, Philadelphia Flyers president Paul Holmgren was all smiles after his organization hosted the NHL Draft for the first time.

"Obviously the League does a lot of the stuff too, but our staff working behind the scenes did a tremendous job," Holmgren said. "I was really proud of our organization [Friday] and again [Saturday]. We had a good turnout again [Saturday], what's normally a light day, the second day. But [Friday] was incredible."

The Philadelphia fans certainly got into the show, starting with booing the 29 other teams during the roll call; they saved their loudest vitriol for the Flyers' biggest rivals, the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins, and carried right through Commissioner Gary Bettman's opening statement.

Even beloved former Flyers weren't spared. Rick Tocchet spent 11 of his 18 NHL seasons with the Flyers and had been a television analyst the past few seasons, but now that he's an assistant coach for the Penguins, he received some of the loudest boos of the night Friday when the Penguins made their first pick at No. 22. That the pick was the son of former Flyers forward Sami Kapanen -- Finnish forward Kasperi Kapanen -- didn't matter much to the Philadelphia fans who only saw the black-and-gold clad enemy.

The crowd was a bit smaller Saturday for the final six rounds, but the fans remained boisterous, booing lustily when the Flyers' biggest rivals had their turns to select.

“They were loud," Holmgren said. "That's Flyers fans. They're awesome."


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