The first hockey book I ever read was about Bernie Parent. At the time, the seven-year-old me knew nothing about the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers rivalry. The book spoke about Parent's outstanding playoff performances, his importance to the city of Philadelphia and many more special memories about the legendary goaltender.
Saturday was truly a surreal moment for the fans of hockey everywhere. It didn't matter it you were a Flyer fan, Ranger fan, an older hockey fan or a younger hockey fan who happened to think the game was going a bit slower than you were accustomed to. The history, esteem and star power of the players who took the ice today entertained 45,000-plus fans at Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia.
The game featured Flyers legends including Parent, Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi, John Leclaire, Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and many more greats. On the Rangers side, Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Ron Duguay, Dave Maloney and other Blueshirt favorites like Dan Blackburn took the ice for one more time.
The Flyers alumni may have won the game 3-1 but Blueshirts fans were still entertained. There were so many moments that were memorable. They include some early saves by Bernie Parent, the goalkeeping of Mark Laforest, and a partial Legion of Doom reunion on an early Flyers goal.
On the New York side there were some other memorable moments. Watching former teammates like Messier, Leetch and Adam Graves moving up the ice on an offensive rush gave some diehards flashbacks to the 1993-94 season. Watching Dan Blackburn make save after save with two blockers made fans wonder what would have happened had not a nerve injury forced the now 28-year-old into an early retirement. Fans also won't forget the speed of the ever popular Ron Duguay.
This game was for fun and some bragging rights but it was a great day for hockey. It exposed some younger kids to legends of their parents and even grandparents' era. It united fans of young and old around the game that is so entertaining and rich in history.
After this game both the current Rangers and Flyers squads have a lot to live up to on Monday. The Winter Classic shouldn't fail to impress as there is a lot at stake for both the Rangers and Flyers.
Date: Jan. 2, 2012
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Network: US-NBC; Canada-CBC
Additional Coverage: NHL Network, NBC Sports, MSG Networks, CSN
Tom Urtz, Jr. is an NHL featured columnist. For NHL news, updates and alerts about players: