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Flyers to stop playing Kate Smith's version of 'God Bless America'

Cite 'offensive lyrics' in other songs from late singer, cover up her statue outside arena

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The Philadelphia Flyers no longer will play Kate Smith's version of "God Bless America" before games at Wells Fargo Center.

"The NHL principle, 'Hockey is for Everyone,' is at the heart of everything the Flyers stand for," Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. "As a result, we cannot stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today."

The Flyers issued a statement on Smith:

"The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with 'God Bless America' as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.

"But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.

"While Kate Smith's performance of 'God Bless America' cannot be erased from its place in Flyers history, that rendition will no longer be featured in our game presentations. And to ensure the sentiments stirred this week are no longer echoed, earlier today we completed the removal of the Kate Smith statue from its former location outside of our arena."

Smith performed the song live several times during the 1970s at the Spectrum, most famously before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final, prior to the Flyers' 1-0 win against the Boston Bruins, which clinched Philadelphia's first Stanley Cup championship.

Smith's version of "God Bless America" has been played as a duet with anthem singer Lauren Hart on occasion, mostly before home playoff games.

A statue of Smith was unveiled outside the Spectrum in 1987, and now stands across the parking lot from Wells Fargo Center on the walkway to Xfinity Live, a restaurant built on the former site of the Spectrum.

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