The Flyers aren't the most storied franchise in hockey. They haven't won the most Stanley Cups, certainly don't have the most hockey hall of famers, and anyone who's a fan of a rival squad hates Philadelphia with a passion.
But something about the men who have played here — their connection with the city and the fans — that makes the Flyers special.
So what is it?
In the latest of a bevy of special events planned for the 50th anniversary season, Philly collected as many of their team hall of famers on the ice prior to puck drop against the Coyotes Thursday. And the greats who hung up their orange sweaters seasons ago still drop everything to come back.
"Still today I am having conversations with people who played a long time in the NHL and are incredibly envious of the Flyers," Dave Poulin, who played center for the Flyers from 1982-1990 said after the ceremony. "I think it was Ed Snider, the continuity of a leader who lasted 50 years, which is unheard of in any industry let alone a professional sports franchise."
Poulin is one of many who never hoisted a Cup in South Philly. Aside from the Broad Street Bullies of the mid 1970s, a great majority of the Flyers greatest players never won a title for Snider's Flyers.Many won elsewhere, like Rod Brind'amour — whose title came after he was traded to the Hurricanes in 2006.
"I really feel connected to the Flyers organization I will take any chance I can to come back and be a part of it," Brind'amour said.
The center played alongside other greats like John LeClair and Eric Lindros — two fellow hall of famers who were on the ice for the pregame ceremony. But even Brind'amour's triumph in Carolina wasn't enough to erase the bitter taste left by falling just short in Philadelphia.
"We had a great team back then," Brind'amour said, referring to the 1997 team that nearly went all the way. "Trades happen, they were trying to make the team better maybe it did mbe it didn't, but it would have been great to win one here."