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For Flyers icon Lou Nolan, an emotional 50-year celebration

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Lou Nolan, Philadelphia Flyers
Lou Nolan has been with the Flyers in some capacity since their start in 1967, including 50 years as their PA announcer. Photo: Zack Hill.

Lou Nolan’s magical voice — the one that has been so distinctive and has made you feel at home for the last half-century as the Philadelphia Flyers’ public-address announcer — cracked with emotion Saturday night when he addressed fans at the Wells Fargo Center before the game against Anaheim.

For Nolan, it was time to say thanks for for being accepted for all these years, a way to tell fans he was one of them.

Someone who loves hockey. Someone who bleeds orange and black. Someone who feels lucky to have made so many hockey-related friends during all these years.

He may be a part-time employee, but he is full-time in the dedication he has shown since he started his Flyers career as an assistant in the public-relations department when the franchise started in 1967. Five years later, he became the PA announcer and has been there ever since.

“Lou,” radio broadcaster Tim Saunders said, “is the soundtrack of Flyers hockey.”

Jim Jackson and Steve Coates emceed the on-ice festivities, and Nolan’s loved ones — his wife, Ellen, his sons, Jeff and Matt, and his daughter-in-law, Adrienne — stood beside him.

The Flyers presented Nolan with a gold-engraved mic, and they gave him and his wife a trip to Napa Valley, causing the announcer to fist pump the air in delight.

Nolan thanked his family for their support, and especially his wife “because she’s the one who put up with me being at these games.”

He said he wanted “most of all” to thank the fans.

“The reason we’re here these years (is because of you),” he said. “Outstanding! Those of you who have been here for 50, great. Those of you here just this year, great. Everybody, thank you very much.”

An excerpt from Lou Nolan’s book: “If These Walls Could Talk: Philadelphia Flyers”

Since the pandemic started, the NHL has instructed PA announcers to work from upstairs. But Nolan was grateful to be back at ice level for last night’s game. In a gesture made because of Nolan’s special night, he sat near the action for the first time in a couple years.

The decision was made by Dave Scott.

“I’ll pay the fine,” said Scott, chairman of the Flyers’ parent company, Comcast Spectacor.

Former Flyers superstars Bernie Parent and Eric Lindros were among the presenters during the ceremony,, and some other ex-Flyers made video tributes on the scoreboard.

During pregame warmups, Flyers players wore jerseys  with “NOLAN” on the back and the No. 50 — commemorating his years behind the mic — on their backs.

“Who would ever think that (would happen)?” Nolan said. “I’m the kid from southwest Philly that went to the Ramblers and played street hockey. It doesn’t compute, but I tried to earn it. So I guess I have.”

Based on the roaring, Louuuuuuuu-chanting crowd on Saturday night, he certainly did.

“I can’t tell you what this means to me,” Nolan said. “It’s been a fantastic thing for me to get to this point and that the team is doing this to thank me.”

 

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