PHILADELPHIA -- Bryan Smolinski never played for the Philadelphia Flyers during his 15 NHL seasons, but the city remains one of his favorites.
Smolinski was part of the 1996 United States World Cup team that defeated Canada in the best-of-3 final, which started at CoreStates Center (now Wells Fargo Center) here.
The members of that championship team will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday, along with former NHL forward Craig Janney and high school hockey coach Bill Belisle. Also being honored are Lester Patrick Trophy winners Mark Howe and Pat Kelly.
The group was recognized during the Flyers game against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. The World Cup was the first sporting event at Wells Fargo Center.
"Just to be back in Philly, unreal city," Smolinski said. "Always had great times here. … Being a part of [USA Hockey], especially the 1996 team, was obviously a dream come true. … To be part of the list of Hall of Famers that are part of it, I'm just glad to be part of it."
Smolinski said catching up with old friends has been the most fun for him.
"You look at everybody, they've all moved on … they had children back then, now they're empty nesters," he said. "Very cool to see Derian Hatcher, we're the same age (45). He runs a team in Sarnia [Ontario Hockey League]. Just great to catch up. Not like we walk down the street and see each other.
"Everyone has their own world and we all have the same story but in a different part of the world."
Smolinski, who at 24 was one of the younger players on the 1996 World Cup team, was second on the United States with five assists in six games. Brett Hull led the United States with seven goals and 11 points.
"We had an unreal hockey team," he said. "Not only did we have talent but we had good people. We had great leaders, Hall of Fame leaders, and it just trickled down. We had great coaching as well. [General manager] Lou Lamoriello, the guys that put the team together, very thankful they thought of me to be part of it."