PHILADELPHIA -- When 20 players from Philadelphia's USA Hockey's Warrior Hockey program arrived at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, they thought it was for a luncheon.
Little did they know what the Flyers and the NHL had planned for them.
As a legacy of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, SN1, TVAS2), the NHL and the Flyers announced a joint donation to form the Philadelphia Flyers Warriors.
[RELATED: Complete Stadium Series coverage]
The $50,000 donation will be used to cover the costs of equipment and ice time for the players. The USA Hockey Warrior Hockey program is dedicated to injured and disabled United States military veterans.
"It's absolutely overwhelming," said Pat Carney, a defenseman on the team who attended the event with his service dog, Alpha. "I come in here and see the names on the lockers, see the names (of members of the Flyers Hall of Fame) around the top, this is a place where history has taken place. Being a Flyers fan for as long as I have, it's extremely humbling being in here. It's an amazing experience. I can't thank the Flyers enough."
Rick Stabeno, who plays forward, helped put the team together in August as a way for him and his fellow veterans to stay active in a team environment.
"The whole goal is to get vets on the ice together," he said. "We originally thought we'd do it somewhere small, get a little bit of ice time, and it's steamrolled into what's happening. Couldn't imagine this.
"The goal is to give everybody some kind of camaraderie and keep everybody together. I don't know everybody's background and I don't need to. Some of the guys might have had some serious combat situations, some of them might have lots a lot of close friends, some might have come home and not had family waiting for them. ... Some of the guys, it might be the only thing they do to get out some days. For me that's not the case, I have family, I'm pretty well-adjusted. Some of these guys might not be. It matters to be part of something."
The Flyers Warriors are the 11th team in the USA Hockey Warrior Hockey program and will compete against other Warrior Hockey teams from around the country.
"That money is going to be ... priceless to achieve what we want to do and become national champions," Carney said.
Among those on hand to make the presentation were former Flyers Brad Marsh, Joe Watson, Brian Propp and Bob Kelly, Flyers president Paul Holmgren. Marsh is the team's coach and worked to keep the presentation a secret.
"It means the world to them," Marsh said. "We've had a number of practices already and we've known that this announcement was coming but we didn't want to say anything. It was really cool to have them in the dressing room, welcome them into the Flyers family."
Kim Davis, NHL executive vice president, social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs, said the establishment of the Flyers Warriors was a different way for the Flyers and the League to leave a lasting impact on the community.
"Often our legacy projects are leaving a physical plant in a particular city," Davis said. "But for us putting in place a new team, you will have the opportunity for years to come together to engage with families for generations. For them to be part of our great sport, it's a special kind of commitment that we're making. And it allows us to be able really recognize and salute those men and women in the armed forces and how much they've done for our country."