2021-22: Cheers for a Banner Year

CHEERS FOR A BANNER YEAR!

The last year has been one of the best in the 38-year-history of the Flyers Alumni Association. Coming out of the worst of COVID-19 pandemic, we were optimistic that we could resume going full speed ahead in 2022.  As it has turned out, the year has exceeded expectations. In fact, we set a record for donations in a single year, between our various charitable giving programs. Some highlights:

* We reached a major direct-donation milestone toward our $2 million pledge to Snider Hockey.

* Our third annual 12 Days of Christmas Giving Campaign surpassed our donations; each year since we started the program, we’ve outdone the previous year.

* We’ve now donated a dozen adaptive bikes to special needs children via our Every Child Deserves a Bike Campaign.

The best is yet to come, including the impending return of the popular Friday Night Fights Event. Last, but not least, it has also been a banner year for Alumni in the news and for the expanded benefits we’re able to offer to our members, such as access to the new Alumni Lounge at the Wells Fargo Center.

BRAD MARSH, Flyers Alumni Association president

 

ALUMNI HIT $1M MILESTONE IN SNIDER HOCKEY DONATIONS

 

On July 19, 2022, the Flyers Alumni Association presented a $183,093.20 to Ed Snider Youth Hockey and Education via proceeds from our fundraising efforts and events such as the 2022 Flyers Alumni Golf Invitational.

Back on February 11, 2016, the Flyers Alumni Association held a press conference at the Wells Fargo Center to announce a major new initiative. With a host of fellow Alumni standing nearby, Brad Marsh announced a pledge for the Alumni to donate $2 million to the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation.

We have now reached exactly $1,000,000 in direct contributions toward that pledge. “Direct contributions” means that the money has comes from the Flyers Alumni Association coffers.

The check presentation at Alumni Golf this year reflects $183,000-plus from our own fundraising efforts and get us to $1 million total over the last six years. The figure excludes include money raised for Snider Hockey via matching contributions to ours. It also excludes money raised from events, auctions, and fundraisers that other organizations – including Snider Hockey itself – hold on their behalf and which the Flyers Alumni assist through our participation.

For example, several years ago, Danny Briere made personal matching contributions to all donations made to Snider Hockey during the 2019 holiday season. As the kick-off event of the Flyers’ Alumni Association’s yearly 12 Days of Christmas Giving drive of daily donations to charities, the Alumni donated $1,000 to Snider Hockey. This was matched by Briere’s own $1,000 contribution and by a $2,000 contribution from the legacy fund created by Ed Snider himself.

Thus, in effect, the Alumni helped raise $4,000 with that single donation. For counting purposes toward the Alumni’s pledge to Snider Hockey, however, only the $1,000 that came directly from the Flyers Alumni Association is reflected in the $1 million donation milestone.

In the spring of 2022, Snider Hockey organized a “celebrity bartender” fundraiser at the Great American Pub in Wayne, PA. A host of Flyers Alumni participated as guest bartenders and the Flyers Alumni Association itself assisted by co-promoting the event with Snider Hockey.

While this, too, is not reflected in the $1 million direct contribution milestone that has been reached, the Celebrity Bartender event is a good example of the close-knit bond the Flyers Alumni Association as a whole and many individual Alumni have with Snider Hockey on a year-round basis.

Individual Flyers Alumni also frequently give of their time in other ways to Snider Hockey. A recent example: In Feb. 2022, as part of the commemoration of Black History Month, Flyers Alum winger Donald Brashear traveled down from Quebec to serve as a guest on-ice instructor at a Snider Hockey practice. He also signed autographs, took photos, and personally greeted the student-athletes.

 

12 Days of Christmas Giving: A Record Year

In 2019, the Flyers Alumni Association launched a new program designed to become an annual tradition during the holiday season: the 12 days of Christmas Giving. Each day for (at least) 12 days, the Alumni association donates money, vital supplies or volunteer time to charities, educational organizations or to individuals or families in need.

The 2022-23 holiday season will mark the fourth year of the program. Last year, we donated $37,700 in money and/or goods to people in need in our community during the Christmas season. Even before the “official” launch of last year’s 12 Days, donated $2,500 to Philabundance for its Camp Out for Hunger Campaign. Here’s a rundown from the 2021-22 drive:

DAY 1      ST. FRANCIS INN: FOOD DONATION

In keeping with a 15-plus tradition of assisting St. Francis Inn in Kensington during the holiday season, the Flyers Alumni delivered 50 hams, 100 turkeys and all the trimmings ($3,200 worth of food in total) that accompany a traditional holiday meal. The mission of St. Francis Inn is to meet essential daily needs of the homeless people it serves, providing food, clothing, and compassionate hospitality.

DAY 2      FLYERS POWERPLAY HOCKEY

The Flyers Alumni made a $3,000 donation to the Philadelphia Flyers PowerPlay hockey program. Back-to-back North American power wheelchair hockey champions (defeating teams from across the United States and Canada) in tournaments sanctioned by the sport’s governing organization, the ongoing pandemic and related hardships precluded the organization of tournaments in 2020 or 2021. However, the Flyers PowerPlay program itself — the official wheelchair hockey affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers — continues.

DAY 3      BUSANSKY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TOY DRIVE

Bob Kelly presented a $2,000 check to Samuel Busansky Upper Elementary School (Pemberton, NJ) on behalf of the Flyers Alumni 12 Days of Christmas Giving program toward the school’s annual holiday toy drive for families in need. Bob’s wife. Stacey, was a longtime teacher at Busansky.

DAY 4      REBUILDING WARRIORS

The Flyers Alumni made a $3,000 contribution to Rebuilding Warriors’ a 501(c)3 org that provides service dogs to honorably discharged military veterans in need. A truly noble and quality of life changing mission. Brittney Shortall of the Philadelphia Flyers Warriors obtained her service dog, Rebel, via Rebuilding Warriors.

DAY 5      FLYERS HOLIDAY TOY DRIVE

On Dec. 14, 2021, at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers Alumni Association made a large donation of new unwrapped toys to the holiday Toy Drive organized by Flyers Charities and the Flyers Community Relations Department. Brad Marsh and Bob “the Hound” Kelly made the donation of $2,000 worth of toys, which filled two entire large collection boxes near the Broad Street Atrium entrance to the arena.

Prior to making the donation, Marsh purchased dozens of toys, games and puzzles from a local, independently owned store in his South Jersey community. The store specializes in selling educational toys that support cognitive development and/or fine motor skill refinement.

DAY 6      SUNSHINE FOUNDATION (MADILYN)

On Day 5 of the Flyers Alumni Association’s 12 Days of Christmas campaign, the Alumni donated $4,000 to the Sunshine Foundation in sponsorship of 5-year-old Madilyn. The Sunshine Foundation makes the dreams come true of children, ages three through 18, who have severe or profound physical/developmental/intellectual challenges or trauma from physical/sexual abuse, and whose families cannot fulfill their childrens’ requests due to financial hardships.

Madilyn, who deals with cerebral palsy, cannot walk, but is an energetic and happy youngster. Her dream is to go to Disney World and meet the Disney princesses (especially her favorite. Cinderella). The Flyers Alumni’s donation enabled the Sunshine Foundation to make Madilyn’s dream come true.

DAY 7      FLYERS YOUTH SPECIAL HOCKEY

The Flyers Alumni Association’s 12 Days of Christmas Giving for 2021, Bob Kelly present $3,000 to Flyers Youth Special Hockey at Alumni Association friend Geoff Rabinowitz’s New Balance store in Cherry Hill. Lou Nolan was also on hand.  The Alumni’s donation was paired with the Philadelphia Flyers Warriors hosting a Toys for Tots drive. A special night for all.

DAY 8      KIDS HOCKEY CLINIC AT SPRING MOUNTAIN ICE

On Dec. 20, 2021, the Flyers Alumni held a free outdoor kids’ hockey clinic at Spring Mountain Ice as our holiday gift to hockey loving families from around the Delaware Valley. A total of 50 children took to the ice with instructors Rob Baer, Brad Marsh, Bob Kelly, Joe Watson and Jim Watson for a pair of one-hour sessions divided by the childrens’ ages in two groups. The young group skated from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the older kids went from 7:15 p.m. to 8:15.

 

 

 

DAY 9      LEHIGH VALLEY POLAR BEARS

Bill Clement, Riley Cote and other members of the Flyers Alumni have been longtime supporters of the Lehigh Valley Winter Classic. The 2022 tournament was held on Feb. 5, 2022, at Bethlehem Municipal Ice Rink, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley. As part of the Flyers Alumni’s 12 Days of Christmas, we $2,500 to the Lehigh Valley Polar Bears special hockey program in memory of former Lehigh Valley Phantoms Youth Hockey player Gus Schwartz, who passed away from injuries suffered in a fatal Dec. 2021 car accident.

DAY 10     EVERY CHILD DESERVES A BIKE (CADIE)

On Dec. 24, 2020, Lucy Brooks became the first recipient and the inspiration for what became the “Every Child Deserves a Bike” campaign. Each year since, we have overlapped the 12 Days of Christmas with an “Every Child” adaptive bike donation. During the 2021-22 edition of 12 Days, Cadence Ivey of Bristol, PA, received a customized adaptive bicycle worth approximately $5,000.

DAY 11     SALMON YOUTH HOCKEY ASSOCIATION

Based in tiny (pop. 3,112) Salmon, Idaho, the all-volunteer Salmon Youth Hockey Association is devoted to bringing the joy of playing the game to the children of Salmon and many other communities. People travel from 150 miles or more away to play in tournaments in Salmon. Children from all socioeconomic backgrounds have opportunities to learn and play the sport together.

The Salmon Youth Hockey Association provides free hockey equipment to all mite and squirt players. The local outdoor rink, which is the most rural rink locale in the contiguous United States, is set against the picturesque mountainous backdrop of the Continental Divide. It’s a spectacular and inspirational setting.

However, the rink itself needs repairs, upgrades and general upkeep. Toward this end, the Flyers Alumni Association donated $2,500.

 

DAY 12      TIM KERR CHARITIES

To wrap up this year’s 12 Days of Christmas edition, the Flyers Alumni made a $5,000 donation to Tim Kerr Charities. Over its 33 years of existence, TKC has raised millions of dollars for community groups and direct-assistance charities in New Jersey, across the Mid-Atlantic region and nationwide.

Tim’s organization does a tremendous job with their fundraising events, especially their annual run/walk event. Timmy never seeks publicity for himself or all things he does for the community. We wanted to support his charity foundation and recognize the great work they do and recognize a member of the Flyers Alumni Family in a way that fits in with the spirit of our own 12 Days of Christmas Giving.

EVERY CHILD DESERVES A BIKE: AIMING FOR ONE-A-MONTH

Despite the pandemic, the Flyers Alumni were able to continue growing our “Every Child Deserves a Bike” program in 2021-22. Through the generous donation support of sponsors and Flyers fans, we have now ordered and personally delivered 12 fully customized adaptive bicycles to special needs children. One recipient was a member of our Alumni family: Scott Daniels’ grandson, Adrian Diaz.

Moving forward, our fundraising goal is to be able to increase the number of adaptive bike donations to 12 per year, presenting on a once-per-month per basis. For more information, visit the “Every Child Deserves a Bike” section of our official website. Please help spread the word and keep those donations coming in. It’s a life-changing program for the recipients and their families.

2022 FLYERS ALUMNI GOLF INVITATIONAL

Thank you to the 50-plus Flyers Alumni who were able to make it out to Dupont Country Club in Wilmington for the 2022 edition of the Flyers Alumni Golf Invitational.

Apart from being a fun day on the links and a great chance to catch up with old friends and teammates, the Golf Invitation serves a crucial purpose. It is one of the capstone events on our yearly fundraising calendar, especially in continuing to make good on our pledge to Snider Hockey.

2022 FLYERS ALUMNI FANTASY CAMP

The 2022 Flyers Alumni Fantasy Camp was held from Aug. 19-22 at the Class of 1923 Rink in Philadelphia. For the eighth straight year, the camp sold out.

Sixty-four participants from across North America registered. Special thanks to Bob Kelly and Rob Baer for the outstanding work they do every year on our signature fundraising events.

2022 coaches:  Bill Barber, Danny Briere, Dave Brown, Mark Howe, Keith Jones, Bob Kelly, Mike Knuble, Brad Marsh, Dave Poulin, Mark Recchi, Joe Watson.

 

 

FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS RETURNS IN 2022

Back in March 2020, we were a mere 48 hours away from the second annual edition of “Friday Night Fights”: a fundraising event dedicated to celebrating old time hockey and spotlighting both Flyers tough guys of the past and some of their top rivals. The fast-paced event features a dinner program, video highlight packages and featured attendees being interviewed by emcee Liam Maguire.

Unfortunately, the City of Philadelphia went into lockdown due to the pandemic just two days before the event. We had to cancel it. Likewise, local event ordinances prevented its return in 2021.

Now, we are happy to announce that Friday Night Fights will return on Oct. 21, 2022. It will be held at the same venue as before: 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia (2300 S. Swanson Street).

 

 

FLYERS ALUMNI LOUNGE

 

The Flyers organization gives back to the Alumni in various ways. One is via free tickets to any game for Alumni and their guests. Another is open access to the new Alumni Lounge at event level of the Wells Fargo Center. It

The Alumni Lounge is kind of our inner sanctum on the event level. It’s designed for the exclusive use of Alumni and guests. When we had the Hall of Fame Game at Wells Fargo Center in November 2021, the day before Rick Tocchet and Paul Holmgren were inducted in the Flyers Hall of Fame, a lot of the Alumni got their first chance to see the lounge. We’ve added some new items to the lounge since then, such as trophies.

Within the lounge, Alumni sit on plush couches, enjoy catered food and beverages and have access to watch large flat-panel television sets. They’re surrounded by photos, memorabilia, artifacts (such as the original “Holmgren/Cashman Gate”) and game-used sticks representing the entire history of the organization from 1967 to the present day.

Each year, a current team photo will replace one from the previous season and will hang side-by-side in the entrance way next to a large-scale color team photo from the inaugural 1967-68 season.

FLYERS ALUMNI WALK/RUN/STROLL AT WASHINGTON’S CROSSING

 

On April 23, 2023, the Flyers Alumni Association and the Flyers Warriors teamed up for a brand-new fundraising event: the first annual Walk/Run/Stroll at the historic Washington’s Cross Park in Bucks County, PA.  The event, which had 1K (family-friendly stroll), 5K (walk/run) and 10k (run) courses, could be done virtually if someone could not participate in person. For example, Bill Clement participated virtually from North Carolina while Joe Watson did a virtual event in Ridley Creek Park shortly before leaving for an overseas vacation.

Another added touch: Robert Kirschner, a 100 percent disabled military veteran and former hockey player (he played as high as minor league hockey in Germany) originally hailing from Bucks County, served as an honorary participant.

Proceeds from the inaugural “Walk, Run, Stroll” raised money for the Bucks County YMCA’s Veterans Wellness Initiative as well for the Flyers Warriors. We received excellent feedback from attendees and are currently in the process of planning next year’s event.

 

 

FLYERS ALUMNI HALL OF FAME GAME 2022

In front of a large and enthusiastic crow at the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 15, 2022, Team Holmgren narrowly defeated Team Tocchet, 6-5, at the Flyers Alumni Hall of Fame game. All proceeds from the game went to Flyers Charities and the charity programs run by the Flyers Alumni Association (“Every Child Deserves a Bike”, “12 Days of Christmas Giving”).

The game came down to a penalty shot for Team Tocchet’s Danny Briere in the final minute. Briere lost the puck trying to make one final cut to the right to tuck the puck inside the post. Goaltending chores were split for Team Holmgren between Robert Esche and Neil Little, while Mike McKenna and, over the latter portion of the third period, Flyers Warriors goalie Bill Duffy were in net for Team Tocchet.

The prettiest goals of the nights were scored by Team Tocchet’s Simon Gagne. Both came on 2-on-1 rushes with Briere. On the first, Gagne pulled off his patented move to the backhand and scored. On the latter, he had a tap-in at the left post after a tape-to-tape pass from Briere.

There was a scary moment in the second period of the game when Team Holmgren defenseman Kjell Samuelsson deflected a pass and ramped up off his stick to strike Team Tocchet’s Mike Knuble in the face. Knuble bled but didn’t require stitches (a little glue did the trick). Being a hockey player, Knuble returned for the third period.

Flyers Alumni Hall of Fame Game: Scoring Summary

1st period
Team Tocchet: Riley Cote (Donald Brashear, Reggie Leach)
Team Holmgren: Scottie Upshall (Dave Brown, Dan McGillis)
Team Holmgren: Joffrey Lupul (Ron Sutter, Dan McGillis)
Team Tocchet: Simon Gagne (Danny Briere, Mike Knuble)

2nd period
Team Holmgren: Scottie Upshall (Joffrey Lupul, Eric Lindros)
Team Holmgren: Scottie Upshall (Joffrey Lupul, John LeClair)
Team Tocchet: Brad Marsh (Riley Cote, Donald Brashear)
Team Holmgren: Todd Fedoruk (Dave Brown, Joe Watson)
Team Holmgren: Eric Lindros (Joffrey Lupul)

3rd period
Team Tocchet: Simon Gagne (Danny Briere, Nick Schultz)
Team Tocchet: Donald Brashear (Riley Cote, Brad Marsh)

Three Star Selection:
1. Bill Duffy (Team Tocchet)
2. Scottie Upshall (Team Holmgren)
3. Simon Gagne (Team Tocchet)

HOLMGREN AND TOCCHET INDUCTED INTO FLYERS HALL OF FAME

 

On Nov. 16, 2021, the Flyers inducted Paul Holmgren and Rick Tocchet into the team’s Hall of Fame. Selected among six finalists for the honor, “Homer” and “Tocc” are the first two honorees inducted since the time of Ed Snider’s passing in 2016. Prior to that, Jim Watson was the most recent inductee.

The selection process is underway to honor two new inductees. The next induction ceremony will take place during the 2022-23 Flyers season.

 

 

 

 

RECCHI INDUCTED IN PHILLY SPORTS HALL OF FAME

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017, Mark Recchi was selected for induction in the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame as part of its Class of 2021. The induction ceremony took place on Nov. 4, 2021.

“Recchs” spent more games in a Flyers uniform (602 regular season matches) than he did for any of the other five NHL teams for whom he played, including the Pittsburgh Penguins (389 games) and Montreal Canadiens (346 games). He was a three-time winner of the Bobby Clarke Trophy as Flyers’ MVP. Overall, he recorded 627 points (232 goals and 395 assists) in 602 regular season games as a Flyer.

In terms of points-per-game, Recchi is one of only six players in franchise history who played at least 100 games as a Flyer to average north of one point per game (1.04). Only Eric Lindros (1.36 points per game as a Flyer), Peter Forsberg (1.15 in exactly 100 games), Tim Kerr (1.08), Brian Propp (1.07), and franchise icon Bobby Clarke (1.06) had higher points-per-game averages than Recchi among Flyers players.

 

 

CLEMENT HONORED AS HOCKEY HALL OF FAME BROADCASTER

 

Congratulations to Bill Clement for being announced as the Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2022 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award inductee.

The Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, created in 1984, recognizes excellence in the field of hockey television or radio broadcasting.  Clement is the third hockey broadcaster who did extensive work in the Philadelphia market to receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. The late Gene Hart received the honor from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997, followed by Mike “Doc” Emrick in 2008. Clement is the first Flyers Alum player who later went onto broadcasting to be recognized by the broadcasters’ wing of the HHOF.

After a solid NHL playing career that included winning the Stanley Cup twice with the Flyers and playing in a pair of NHL All-Star Games, Clement became one of the NHL’s most highly acclaimed television broadcast analysts both at the national (ESPN, NBC, ABC, SportsChannel America) and local levels and was a broadcaster for hockey and other sports in the Olympics. He forged long-running broadcast partnerships with Emrick, Gary Thorne and, later, Jim Jackson.

Clement retired from broadcasting in 2021 and later relocated to North Carolina after many years as a Bucks County resident.

 

FLYERS, ZACK HILL HONORED BY PHILLY SPORTS WRITERS

On May 2, 2022, the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association (PSWA) honored members of the Flyers Alumni during their annual awards banquet. Among the attendees on hand were Bill Barber, Joe Watson, Mark Howe and Jimmy Watson. Also on hand were Lou Nolan, Joe Kadlec, Zack Hill and other longtime Flyers employees.

Later in the evening, unbeknownst beforehand to Zack Hill, the PSWA presented him with a lifetime achievement award as a thank you for all he’s done – for the media, for players and for the Flyers organization itself – during his 29 years as Flyers’ team publicist. Zack retired on July 1.

 

 

FLYERS ALUMNI IN MEMORIAM

Since the time of our last newsletter, sadly, we have mourned the passings of more than half dozen members of the Flyers Alumni family. We will close this newsletter in fond everlasting memories of those we have lost in that time.

LOU ANGOTTI

DONNA ASHBEE

JEAN-GUY GENDRON

LARRY HILLMAN

BOB MCCAMMON

ROBBIE MOORE

JEAN POTVIN

Additionally, we would be remiss if we did not pay our respects to the families of longtime Flyers beat writer and historian Jay Greenberg and longtime Flyers attorney Phil Weinberg.

 

 

 

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