'Life is good' as Flyers throughout history reunite
VOORHEES, N.J. -- Jeremy Roenick wasn't hiding the fact he could've used a little assistance during the Philadelphia Flyers' alumni practice Friday here at Skate Zone.
"This place needs air," he said, wheezing in front of the benches after a few breakout drills.
"I was trying to find the wind out there," Roenick said afterward, seemingly still trying to catch his wind. "It was fun, though. It was great seeing all the fans out there. What a showing for us old guys who come around and embarrass ourselves out there. What a great feeling being back in here. Awesome."
It was as if time folded back onto itself on a sheet of ice that's about 20 minutes away from where the 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game between the Flyers and Rangers will take place at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (3 p.m., Versus, CBC).
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There was Roenick, rushing up the ice with familiar Flyers faces of the past four decades. Two-thirds of the Legion of Doom were sharing a rink with members of the Broad Street Bullies, all in front of about 1,500 fans who were treated to a practice that was something out of a dream.
Bridging the generational gap to present was Roenick's 14-year-old son, Brett, who took part in the up-tempo practice and spirited scrimmage that concluded the festivities. It also revealed who has been keeping shape and who hasn't, eventually degrading into a 3-on-3 as players retreated to the comfort of the locker room.
"It's good having him out there," said Roenick, who was a Flyer from 2001-05. "He needs to get a little bigger and stronger to keep up with us. It's a celebration of the game. Having him meet Bernie (Parent) was really special to me. Bernie is one for the icons of the game, but he's also one of the nicest people you'll meet. It's special having him see Bobby Clarke and guys like that. They're special days to me, so it's nice."
Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg comprised that Legion of Doom line that wreaked havoc on the NHL during the mid-1990s. Renberg is unable to play in the alumni game, but Lindros and LeClair enjoyed reliving their glory days together.
"Johnny was good, he’s still got it," Lindros said. "It was nice to be out there and go for a twirl. It was fun. I had a good time, got to see some old faces."
"It's going to be fun. It's been a while since we played together," LeClair said. "It's a lot of good times and a lot of good memories. It's great to see him. He's a big part of Flyers history. He had a lot of great years. He did a lot of great things. He took us to a Stanley Cup in '97. He was a big part of it."
Parent, who turned 66 this year, will only make a brief appearance during the alumni game, but he was perhaps the happiest guy in the locker room following the once-in-a-lifetime practice that bridged generations.
"We have different generations here. It’s like we’re one big family," Parent said before taking it a step further. "It’s not ‘like’ -- we are one big family. Some brothers are a little bit younger than others, but we’re all in the same family. That’s why it’s such a great feeling to be in this dressing room."
Parent said he had a hard time seeing the pucks, but it had nothing to do with his advanced age.
"The only problem is I said, ‘The puck looks fuzzy a little bit today. What’s going on?’" he said. "I forgot to put my contact in. But that’s alright. I’ll have it in for tomorrow."
Leave it for Parent to sum up the feeling of a group of grown men -- a few bordering on elderly -- who are about to play one more hockey game in a Flyers sweater in front of thousands of excited fans.