From the Vault: Memorable Games in Flyers Alumni History

The Flyers Alumni Association was created in 1984 for the purpose of the Alumni Team to play fundraising games for charities and community organizations. It was also created to provide an outlet for Flyers Alumni to continue to play hockey together and organize both off-ice fundraising events and social activities together.

For most of the Flyers Alumni Team’s history, co-founder Joe Watson served as the team manager as well as a player. In more recent years, Flyers community development director Brad Marsh became the Flyers Alumni Association president. Marsh organized the large-scale events on the Alumni Team calendar while Watson continued to be in charge of the ad hoc fundraising games in local rinks. The team has also traveled internationally, representing the Flyers famous crest in Switzerland, Norway, Finland and Russia, among other countries.

Some of the most memorable and successful Flyers Alumni Games of the past include the following:

1992: Flyers Alumni vs. Heroes of Hockey (Spectrum)

As part of the NHL All-Star Game festivities at the Spectrum, the Flyers Alumni Team played against the Heroes of Hockey squad. The biggest highlight of the All-Star event, however, was Flyers legend Bob Clarke (then the general manager of the Minnesota North Stars) being welcomed back with a lengthy standing ovation.

1995: Flyers Alumni vs. Team USA 1980 Lake Placid Alumni (Spectrum)

The famous LCB line of Reggie Leach, Clarke and Bill Barber,along with a host of other notables from the 1970s and 1980s including Joe Watson, Rick MacLeish, Brian Propp, Dave “the Hammer” Schultz, Bob Kelly, Terry Murray and many more suited up against a team comprised of multiple players who were part of Team USA’s “Miracle on Ice” gold medal run at the 1980 Olympics. Notable participating Team USA players included goalie Jim Craig and team captain Mike Eruzione.

The Flyers Alumni, intent on proving a point that no one was going to beat them at the Spectrum, jumped out to a 6-1 lead by the first intermission. The Alumni scaled down their attack and the Team USA veterans chipped away at the deficit until they got back within 6-5 early in the third period.

At that point, the Flyers Alumni side got serious again. Ray Allison completed a hat trick for a 7-5 lead. Shortly thereafter, Schultz scored on a breakaway to restore a three-goal lead. After the Team USA team got the next goal, the Flyers Alumni scored two straight to seal a 10-6 final score.

1996: Flyers Alumni vs. Hollywood All-Stars (Spectrum)

Well-known figures ranging from Alan Thicke, Matthew Perry, Richard Dean Anderson, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Alex Trebek, Kelsey Grammer and Mike Meyers toured major rinks around the United States, supplemented by a handful of NHL Alumni. The Flyers Alumni won handily.

Joe Watson, naturally, played for the Flyers Alumni side in this game, as did his brother and fellow Flyers Hall of Fame Joe Watson. However, elsewhere on the tour, the elder Watson brother played for the Hollywood All-Stars side.

2012 Winter Classic: Flyers Alumni vs. New York Rangers Alumni (Citizens Bank Park)

More than 45,000 fans packed Citizens Bank Park on Dec. 31, 2011, in what was perhaps the biggest on-ice and off-ice reunion of Flyers players from every era of team history. The Flyers won the game, 3-1, on goals by Shjon Podein, John LeClair and Mark Howe (penalty shot).

The biggest stories of the game: Bernie Parent, at age 65, started the game in goal for the Flyers and played the first five minutes of the game. Most notably, Parent made a save on a Ron Duguay breakaway (which Duguay gallantly flipped softly into the goalie’s pads so he could bask in the crowd reaction). Parent entered the ice and exited the ice to two standing ovations.

This game also marked the first time that Eric Lindros donned a Flyers uniform since Game 6 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Final. Ever since then, Lindros has been part of some of the biggest Alumni events.He’s also since been inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame and Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2018, the Flyers retired Lindros’ No. 88 jersey.

Other notables on the Flyers’ side: Mark Recchi, Joe and Jim Watson, the LCB Line, Eric Desjardins, Jeremy Roenick, Orest Kindrachuk, Bob Kelly, Chris Therien, Rick Tocchet, Dave Poulin, Brian Propp, Ken “the Rat” Linseman and many more. The late Pat Quinn coached the Flyers side while Mike Keenan was behind the Rangers’ bench.

2016: Flyers Alumni Team White vs. Alumni Team Orange (Reading, PA)

The kickoff event for the Flyers Alumni’s $2 million pledge to help the Ed Snider Hockey create a signature rink for use by Snider Hockey kids was an intrasquad Alumni Game at Santander Arena in Reading. The game featured a rare goal by defensive defenseman Marsh, appearances by recently retired Alumni such as Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen as well as participating by Alumni who are not typically part of these events such as longtime NHLer Ric Nattress. Robert Esche appeared in net during this game. Wearing gloves he donned with the 1995 Detroit Red Wings during his final season as an active player, Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe led all players with four assists.

2017: 50th Anniversary Alumni Game vs. Penguins Alumni (Wells Fargo Center)

On January 13, 2017, the Flyers held a VIP reception at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia; an event that included more than 75 Alumni including most of the surviving members of the inaugural 1967-68 team, 1973-74 and 1975-76 Stanley Cup teams, and a host of Alumni from the 1980s through early 2010s.

The next night, all of the Alumni returned for a game at the sold-out Wells Fargo Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni. This game featured the first and only time the complete Legion of Doom (LeClair, Lindros and Mikael Renberg), LCB and 1980s trio of Propp, Dave Poulin and Tim Kerr were together on the same ice. Simon Gagne made his Flyers Alumni Game debut, and the likes of the Watson brothers, Desjardins, Therien, Mark Howe, Marsh, Kjell Samuelsson, Dave Brown (who scored a goal in the game) and Timonen. Brian Boucher and Neil Little handled goaltending duties.

In the third period, the Penguins shortened the bench and double-shifted their youngest Alumni, including Tyler Kennedy and Ryan Malone to rally to tie the game while some of the much older Flyers Alumni were on the ice.

Most notably, though, this game marked the final time that Hockey Hall of Famers Clarke and Barber participated in a playing capacity.

2017 Russia Tour: Kazan, St. Petersburg and Moscow

In February 2017, Flyers Alumni squad featuring Joe Watson, Marsh, Podein, Al Secord, Terry Carkner, Chychrun, Chase Watson (Jim’s son, Joe’s nephew), Andrei Kovalenko, AHL Hall of Fame goalie Freddy Cassivi (Hershey Bears) and a host of guest players, including former NHLers Bobby Carpenter, Andrei Nikolishin and world famous jazz saxophonist Igor Butman were part of a three-city hockey tour.

The first game was in Kazan against “Team Tatarstan”. Their team included the president of Tatarstan, Rusam Minnikhanov, as well as former Russian national team and/or KHL players. The middle game, in St. Petersburg, was against the SKA Alumni in front of a sold-out crowd. The SKA side had a host of players who were either recently retired pros or notables in team/KHL administration.

The final event was a no-rules shinny on Red Square in Moscow. As a thank you to the Flyers Alumni for assisting him in a local kids clinic one day earlier, longtime NHL standout Alexei Yashin donned a Flyers Alumni uniform as a special guest player. No score was kept nor were fixed minimums or maximums for players on the massive ice surface. There were no off-sides, icings, etc.

On the final day of the tour, Russia’s then deputy prime minister, Arkady Dvorkovich, greeted the Flyers Alumni at their Moscow hotel.

2017 Return Match: Flyers Alumni vs. Penguins Alumni (Reading, PA)

Two months after the game at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers Alumni and Penguins Alumni rematched at Santander in Reading. There were a few roster changes for this game, including winger Arron Asham and defenseman Jeff Chychrun and winger Arron Asham (who played on the Penguins side at the 50th Anniversary Game) suiting up for the Flyers Alumni. Paul Holmgren played in this game, too.

As it turned out, though, the biggest addition to the Flyers Alumni side was Daniel Carcillo. During the game, Carcillo racked up a hat trick and two assists for a five-point game. The Flyers Alumni also got two goals apiece from Lindros and LeClair. Unlike the tied outcome in the higher-profile 50th Anniversary Game, this one turned into a blowout victory.

 

 

2018 Flyers Alumni vs. Hershey Bears Alumni (outdoor game at Hershey Park Stadium)

One day after Lindros’ jersey retirement ceremony and one day before the Lehigh Valley Phantoms played the Hershey Bears in the AHL’s Outdoor Classic, the Flyers Alumni Team played an outdoor game at Hershey Park Stadium on January 19, 2018.

The full Legion of Doom suited up for this game, as did Briere, Kelly (in one of final Alumni Games as a player), Chychrun and others. Barber, Al Hill (a fan favorite and later a coach in Hershey), Holmgren and Bernie Parent were among the guest coaches and off-ice honorees on the Flyers side. Rob Zepp, in his first Flyers Alumni All-Star Game took over in net after Neil Little got the start.

The Hershey team, with special guest coach Ray Bourque (whose son, Chris, was still an active player on the Bears and on hand for the pregame ceremonies), won the game. Their notable players included the likes of longtime NHLer Vaclav Prospal and AHL Hall of Famer Mitch Lamoureux.

 

2018 Flyers Alumni vs. Bruins Alumni (Portland, ME)

To celebrate the creation of the rebooted ECHL Maine Mariners franchise and the heritage of the original Maine Mariners of the AHL — a highly successful Flyers farm team and later a Bruins farm team — the Flyers Alumni Team took on the Boston Bruins Alumni.

There was a particular Maine flavor to this game with the likes of Mariners/Flyers Alumni such as Terry Murray, Len Hachnborn, Frank Bathe, Danny Lucas and Steve Tsujiura n on the Flyers side. The game also featured Briere, mid-1990s Flyers center Bob Corkum and goalie Zepp (who played all 60 minutes and made 40 saves in the win). The Boston side, notably, included Ken Linseman.

Lindros was on hand for the game but a baggage handling snafu at the airport (his equipment did not arrive in time for the game) limited him to a guest-appearance role on the Flyers bench.

2019: Flyers Alumni vs. Snider Hockey (Class of 1923 Arena)

The Flyers Alumni celebrated the completion of the Class of 1923 project with a game against the Alumni of Snider Hockey. The game took place one night before the 2019 Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field. Participating Alumni included Briere, Timonen, Hartnell, Propp,Samuelsson and more.

2021: Flyers Alumni vs. Flyers Warriors Showcase (Ice Works, Aston)

Partially a weekend long retirement tribute to Joe Watson and partially a fundraising event on behalf of the Flyers-affiliated Flyers Warriors hockey program. The game and subsequent VIP receptions were a complete sell-out. The Flyers Alumni Team played three periods while each of the Flyers Warriors Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 rosters played 20 minutes apiece.

Participating Flyers Alumni in playing capacities included Howe, LeClair, Briere, Mike Knuble, the 78-year-old Joe Watson, Marsh, Therien, Jody Shelley, Dave Brown, Scott Daniels, Adam Hall, Jesse Boulerice, Esche and many more.

2021 Flyers Alumni Hall of Fame Game

On Nov. 15, 2021, in conjunction with the Flyers Hall of Fame inductions of Rick Tocchet and Paul Holmgren, there was a “Team Holmgren vs. Team Tocchet” game at the Wells Fargo Center between two teams of Flyers Alumni. There was also a smaller-scale version of the VIP reception.

Since there were two rosters to fill, the all-Flyers concept allowed for more Alumni to play in the game or participate as honorary coaches.

Pelle Eklund, for example, traveled from Sweden to play in the game, while the Sutter twins were among the Alumni behind the bench (Rich) or playing in the game (Ron). Meanwhile, there was wider involvement from younger players as Scottie Upshall and Joffrey Lupul to play in their first Flyers Alumni Game. Flyers Hall of Fame right wing Reggie Leach played in his final Alumni Game as an on-ice participant.

Upcoming: Flyers Alumni vs. Bruins Alumni 

Come January 26, 2024, the Flyers, Flyers Charities and the Flyers Alumni will stage a weekend with the sort of “once-in-a-lifetime” impact that the 2012 Winter Classic Alumni Game at Citizens Bank Park and Golden Anniversary celebrations had on the fans and participants alike.

“We want everyone who attends the VIP reception and the Alumni Game on Friday — and then comes to the current team’s game on Saturday — to come away feeling like they were part of something special,” Marsh said.

“There’s a lot to celebrate. For one thing, 2024 is the 50th anniversary of the Flyers’ first Stanley Cup championship. Nearly all of the surviving members of the 1974 and 1975 Cup teams will have a weekend-long reunion they’ll share with each other and the fans. We have Alumni and family members coming from all across the U.S. and Canada. This may be the final time they all get together as a big group.

“Second, Mark Recchi is being inducted on Saturday into the Flyers Hall of Fame. Frankly, that honor was overdue. So, part of the weekend is about celebrating ‘Recchs” and his Flyers career.  Third, we really want to make the VIP reception something that’s worth every penny to the fans that come. There will be more than 50 Alumni at the reception. The Cup team guys, who are there for the reunion. The Alumni who are playing in the Alumni Game will be there before getting ready for the game. We encourage the folks who come to the VIP take photos with the Alumni. The guys are also happy to sign autographs. Everyone understands it’s as much about the fans as the players.

“Best of all, the proceeds from the Alumni Game go directly to Flyers Charities and the Flyers Alumni Association. For example, the Alumni’s programs such as ‘Every Child Deserves a Bike’, which builds and donates adaptive bikes for special needs kids, will benefit. So will our annual ’12 Days of Christmas’, series of donations to community organizations, small non-profits, charities and families in need.”

 

Participating players in the Flyers Alumni Game on January 26 include players from every decade of Flyers history.

Mike Richards will make his Flyers Alumni Team debut, donning a Flyers uniform for the first time since 2011. The forwards also include the Crazy Eights and two-thirds of the Legion of Doom. They’ll be joined by Scott Hartnell, Patrick Sharp (in his first Flyers Alumni appearance), Mike Knuble and more. On the blueline, Howe will be joined by the likes of Kimmo Timonen and Marsh. Brian Boucher and Robert Esche will share the goaltending duties. The Flyers’ legacy of team toughness will be represented by the original “Bruise Brothers” (Dave Brown and Daryl Stanley) and Todd Fedoruk playing in the Alumni Game.

Another special touch: 80-year-old Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Joe Watson will suit up to play in the Alumni Game. A member of the inaugural 1967-68 team, both Stanley Cup winning squads, a two-time NHL All-Star Game participant and a co-founder of the Flyers Alumni Association and Alumni Team in 1984, Watson is the only player who has worn a Flyers/Flyers Alumni uniform in seven different decades.

“Sometimes, I think, ‘What am I trying to prove?’ But it always comes down to that I love to play hockey and it makes me proud to represent the Flyers. That’s what it is. Reggie [Leach] and I were the final two guys from the Cup years who were playing in Alumni Games, and now I’m the last one. So for the 50th anniversary of the first Cup — holy smokes, 50 years — I’ll do it one more time,” Watson said.

Added Marsh, “Ah, Joe always says, ‘This is the final time. Then he plays in the next one. All kidding aside, he’s a hockey lifer and a Flyers lifer. It’s in his blood.”

A final notable touch to the weekend: both on Friday and Saturday, the Flyers Alumni and current Flyers will be taking on squads representing the Boston Bruins. That is no accident.

The two Flyers Stanley Cup teams was largely built on players who started out with the Bruins: Bernie Parent, Joe Watson, Gary Dornhoefer, Leach, Terry Crisp, the late Rick MacLeish, the last Barry Ashbee, and the late Ross Lonsberry. The 1974 Stanley Cup Final saw the underdog Flyers defeat the Bruins. In the 1976 Stanley Cup Final, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Flyers defeated the Bruins to earn a third straight trip to the Cup Final.

Tickets for the event start at just $25. For lower-level seats, use coupon passcode F126SG to receive a $6 discount on tickets in honor of Chris “Bundy” Therien, who holds the distinction of the most career games played by a Flyers defenseman, being added to the Flyers Alumni Team roster. Passes to the pregame VIP reception are available as an add-on purchase. Lastly, there will be a limited-edition collectable program for sale at the Wells Fargo Center, honoring both Recchi’s Flyers Hall of Fame induction and the reunion of the surviving members of the 1973-74 and 1974-75 championship-winning Broad Street Bullies’ teams.

To purchase tickets, click here.

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