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Flyers’ Notebook: Alumni Game a Hit, Saluting the Champs, Briere on Signings

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Mark Recchi, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo courtesy of Flyers)
Mark Recchi, who will go into the team's Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon, scored two goals in Friday's alumni game. Photo: Flyers.

To thundering applause, the Philadelphia Flyers introduced many members from their 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup championship teams before Friday’s alumni game at the lively Wells Fargo Center.

There were loud “Bernie” chants as Bernie Parent was introduced. A short time later, the big crowd erupted in “Boosh” chants as Brian Boucher made a handful of nice saves against the Boston Bruins’ alumni.

The Flyers won, 6-2, on a night that the franchise celebrated the 50th anniversary of their first Stanley Cup.

Fittingly, Mark Recchi, who will go into the Flyers’ Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon before a real game against Boston, scored two goals for the winners.

“Why did you retire?” in-game broadcaster Steve Coates said to Recchi (three points) after he scored on a breakaway to make it 3-1 early in the final period.

Recchi was surprised that 13,049 came out for an alumni game.

“I didn’t expect it,” he said. “Johnny (LeClair) and I were talking on the bench. I thought the lower-bowl might be kind of full, but for the amount of people that were here was awesome. That’s Philadelphia. That’s (their) sports fans. They’re passionate and they love hockey and they love sports and that’s what they do.”

Mike Richards set up Recchi’s first goal and gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead by scoring on a shorthanded breakaway late in the second period. Donald Brashear, Eric Lindros and Patrick Sharp also scored for Philly.

Among those who played in the game was Joe Watson, 80, an Original Flyers and a two-time Stanley Cup champ.

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Watson recalled that after the Flyers beat Buffalo in 1975 and won their second straight Cup, he and his teammates were at owner Ed Snider’s house for a party. Snider was awash with joy.

“I remember Mr. Snider said this was easy,” Watson cracked. “Cripes, we haven’t won in 50 years … It’s not easy!”

Watson said this will be the final hockey game of his career. His first game with the Flyers was Oct. 11, 1967.

After the game, Watson said he had problems keeping his balance.

Coates, beer in hand in the locker room, sat next to Watson. “I got sore watching you,” he kidded.

Briere talks signings

During the second intermission of the alumni game, Flyers general manager Danny Briere talked about locking up forwards Owen Tippett (eight years, $49.6 million)  and Ryan Poehling (two years for a reported total of $3.8 million) to contracts earlier in the day.

“When we look at the upside, the age, his play and with what we’re trying to build, the character of the person,” said Briere when asked why he felt confident enough to sign Tippett for such a long period of time. “… We’re very confident with what we’ve seen, and that’s why we were willing to make that commitment. He’s part of the core and we’re excited.”

Tippett, 24, is second on the Flyers with 18 goals and has found a knack of creating quality shots with his speed and maneuverability.

“Power forwards like him are tough to find,” said Briere, adding he is hopeful Tippett can return from an injury right after the All-Star break. “And we think there’s more there. We think he’s going to keep improving.”

Tippett was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Claude Giroux, two minor-leaguers and a fifth-round draft pick to Florida in 2022. The Flyers also got a third-round pick in 2023 — it turned out to be the highly regarded Denver Barkey — and a first-rounder in 2024.

Yes, then-GM Chuck Fletcher won that trade.

Poehling, 25, has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 44 games this season and has been a valuable member of the Philadelphia Flyers’ penalty kill and solid in the faceoff circle. Briere said he had a verbal agreement with Poehling’s agent and expected the contract to be signed shortly.

“He helps us in many different facets,” Briere said. He said the 6-foot-2, 204-pound Poehling has brought speed and size into the lineup. “He’s been a great fit. Torts (John Tortorella) has really enjoyed him.”

Recchi to be inducted

Recchi, 55, an assistant with Columbus, will take his place among Flyers greats on Saturday afternoon. The ceremony starts at noon, followed by the Flyers-Bruins game at 12:30 p.m.

In 1,652 career NHL games, Recchi collected 1,533 points (577 goals, 956 assists). With the Flyers, he had 627 points (232 goals, 395 assists) in 602 games.

He played more games with the Flyers than any of the seven teams on his resume.

“It’s an incredible honor,” he said about being saluted Saturday. “This is a special place. It’s been an awesome place to play.”

He said the Flyers’ new regime, under Dan Hilferty, Keith Jones and Briere, has revived the franchise.

“Watching what’s going on, it’s family again,” he said. “To me, that’s the most important thing. As a proud Flyer, I’m excited for the future of this organization. ”

The Flyers’ Hall of Fame currently has 27 members, beginning with the inaugural inductions of Bobby Clarke and Parent in 1988. Paul Holmgren and Rick Tocchet were the most recent inductees, honored in 2021.

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