Forget about April Fools posts, it’s kind of a big day for Philadelphia sports. The surprisingly competent 76ers take on the New Jersey Nets tonight at 7PM and can clinch a playoff spot with a win. A Charlotte loss gets them in as well and while I’m not expecting much in the postseason, this team did beat San Antonio, Chicago and Boston this season. They were even able to hang with Miami until the Heat decided they wanted to win that game. That’s just the tip of the Philly Sports iceberg though.
The Flyers were huge in Philadelphia when I was growing up, and they’ve done a lot this year to put themselves back in the spotlight. Now that hockey has been on the brain for a while, I got to thinking about the last time in my life that I really payed attention to the sport.
The thing that came immediately to mind are the crazy set of divisions and conferences that the NHL was organized into throughout the 1980s. The Flyers have been part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference since 1993, but my memories of them are as part of the Patrick Division in the the Prince of Wales Conference. I’ll never forget having a certain fascination with where these names came from and what they meant. While the Adams, Norris, and Smythe Divisions and the Campbell Conference weren’t things I could immediately recall from memory, they have so much more charm than East, West and all points in between.
The other thing I recall trying to wrap my mind around were the teams from oddball cities, particularly ones without other sports teams like the Hartford Whalers, Winnipeg Jets, and Quebec Nordiques. Technically those teams still exist as the Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes, and Colorado Avalanche respectively, but those teams just seem so boring to me. Of course, there are still some weird franchises out there like the Columbus Bluejackets, San Jose Sharks, and Ottawa Senators, but they’re just not the same.
With expansion, relocation, and realignment to geographic divisions, I feel like some of the magic has been lost. The organization shouldn’t really affect the sport, but looking back, the archaic and inaccessible setup really created a mystique for the NHL. At least this year, the Stanley Cup Finals feature representatives of the James Norris Division in the Chicago Blackhawks along with the former Lester Patrick Division Philadelphia Flyers. A Flyers win might just be enough to keep me around even if the league is so easy to figure out these days.
It’s pretty clear that the NHL is normally off my radar, but with the Flyers unexpected success this year I’ve been paying some attention. With the Stanley Cup Finals moving to Philadelphia tonight, I thought that home ice really just gave the team crowd support and the chance to sleep in your own bed. As it turns out, there’s more to it than that. Read more of this article »
Flyers down 0-2 in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals
Last night, I had to switch to the Flyers radio feed for the third period of Game 2 (the DVR had a conflict, which was odd since I thought everything was done for the season). I remembered hating these broadcasts in the past, and I can hear that nothing has changed. Two quotes fully characterize everything that’s wrong: Read more of this article »