NHL Winter Classic 2012: My Dream Philadelphia Flyers Alumni Roster Additions
New Year's Eve at Citizens Bank Park will be a special event for several generations of hockey fans.
Having unwrapped a pair of tickets to the Winter Classic Alumni Game on Christmas morning, I gave the Flyers roster a second look.
Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, Rick Tocchet, Mark Howe, John LeClair and Eric Lindros headline a team of memorable Broad Street Bullies sure to bring the sense of nostalgia to the Winter Classic that all are looking for.
But then I started thinking about some of the players I really would have loved to see participate in this game. You know, the guys you rooted for who weren't the All-Stars and top jersey sellers, but players you felt a connection with inexplicably.
Well, here's my list.
Read, laugh, question, do what you will. Just be sure to tell me who your favorite alumni were, and what players you believe were carelessly omitted from the Winter Classic Alumni Game roster.
Rod "The Bod" will always be a Philadelphia Flyer.
He was everything that makes a successful Philly athlete, and he was taken away too soon.
Eric Lindros' greatly publicized participation in the Alumni Game ensures Brind'Amour's absence, but still, old No. 17 deserves a chance to be recognized as one of the most beloved Flyers in the team's 44-season history.
Every time Jim Jackson said, "It's hard to believe Rod has been in Carolina longer than Philadelphia," I would think, "Wow, it is hard to believe."
But Brindy played 142 more regular season games with Carolina than he did in Philly, and of course, captained Carolina to a Stanley Cup championship in 2005-06.
Still, with the chances of the 'Canes playing in a Winter Classic any time soon relatively low, I feel Brind'Amour should be a part of the festivities this season.
This will NEVER get old
To be fair, "Sexy Hexy" has been included as an "off-ice ambassador" for the Alumni Game because a recent back surgery will prohibit him from participating in the action.
While it will be a treat to see 66-year-old Bernie Parent between the pipes for a short time, I still wish Hextall could be in there.
And with Dave Schultz and Frank "The Animal" Bialowas omitted from the lineup, it would be great to have a little muscle in case the game turns ugly.
Wouldn't it be great to see the Legion of Doom back together one last time?
While Lindros and LeClair will both be on the ice, Renberg declined the invite because of a previous engagement—commentating Sweden vs. Russia in the 2012 World Junior Championship Tournament for Sweden's state run television network.
A reunion of the LOD and their legendary chemistry (see video) is not in the cards, which is a shame.
I'm 23 years old and my first memories as a Flyers fan—what really got me into the game itself—was watching Philly's three-man wrecking crew unleash on their opposition.
Two of the three will have to suffice; at least I still get to see Chris Therien.
M. David Leeds/Getty Images
I cannot tell you why, but I always loved Kent Manderville.
The penalty killing specialist only played 163 games (regular season and playoffs) over parts of three seasons with the orange and black from 1999-00 through 2001-02.
But the way Manderville played, knowing his role, sacrificing his body and his willingness to make the greasy (thank you, Bill Clement) plays endeared him to the appreciative Philly fan base.
Manderville only put up 25 points (10 G, 15 A) during his time in Philly, but his job was to win faceoffs and play responsible defense, and he did both well.
Basically, if Jim Dowd gets a roster spot, so should Manderville.
Sami Kapanen will forever live in Flyers lore for surviving Darcy Tucker's hit and getting to the bench, allowing Jeremy Roenick to get on the ice and score the goal that ruined the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kapanen suffered a concussion and still played the next seven games of the playoffs—another hard hitting series, this time against Tampa Bay, with a chance at the Cup Finals on the line—and out of his natural position, no less.
Early in Kapanen's career with the Carolina Hurricanes, the 5-foot-10 speedster from Finland was a 20-plus goal scorer.
However, following his trade to the Flyers, Kapanen never topped 12 goals in a season and took on a bit of a different role.
Kapanen killed penalties, played defense, blocked shots and basically whatever else he could to help his team win.
Much like Manderville, although more remarkable and memorable, Kapanen became a fan favorite for his toughness and team first mentality.
And because of that one moment, that Rocky-like struggle to regain his balance and not let play be stopped for him, Kapanen is a legend in this city—one worthy of a roster spot in an Alumni Game.
Phantoms from My Youth
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The picture featured is from the Philadelphia Phantom's 2005 Calder Cup championship.
I was a season ticket holder for their first season as the AHL's best team (1997-98), and because of this, I have a special place in my heart for some of the players who were stars in the minors, but never quite made that next step.
While I am happy Neil Little will get his day in the sun as one of the goaltenders scheduled to see time for the Flyers in the Alumni Game, if his two NHL games worth of experience (0-2, 3.87 GAA, 93 minutes) qualify him for the honor, then I'd like to see some others as well.
Frank "The Animal" Bialowas
The Phantoms No. 29 never made it onto the Flyers roster, but his 513 regular season penalty minutes from 1996-97 through 1997-98 made him an instant fan favorite in the old Spectrum.
A seventh-round draft pick of the Flyers in 1994, Forbes displayed flashes of brilliance working his way through the minors, combining a 20-30 goal touch with the toughness of a 100-plus PIM player.
But Forbes just never could get it going in the NHL, bouncing around Tampa Bay, New York, Ottawa and Washington's systems before retiring after the 2006 season. In all, Forbes played 311 NHL games from 1996 to 2006, accumulating 61 points and 213 PIM.
White led the AHL in scoring three times—twice with the Phantoms, putting up 105 points in back-to-back seasons (1996-97 and 1997-98), which were the first two years the Phantoms were in Philly.
White even married then Flyers GM Bobby Clarke's daughter, but still was never able to make an impact with the big club, putting up only 31 points through 104 games and two separate stints in orange and black.
White was the offensive force who led the Phantoms to their (and my own, as a fan) first championship, which at least deserves an honorable mention on the Alumni roster.
Over 188 games in three seasons with the Phantoms, MacIsaac was an impressive plus-72. Making that number even more impressive was MacIsaac's own lack of offensive skill, tallying only 67 points in the same time frame.
MacIsaac's hard hitting, perfect defensive positioning and dominance when he decided to drop the gloves (and his use of Diamond Dallas Page's celebratory "diamond cutter" hand gesture) inspired my own defensive play as a developing youngster learning to play the game, but I realized early on that I did not possess the natural touch needed to be an offensive playmaker.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was my own walk down memory lane. Who are some of your more obscure Flyers favorites from the past?