Hockey Hall Enshrines Longtime Flyers Voice Gene Hart, Who Got His Start In Trenton, Spent Nearly Three Decades As A Flyers Broadcaster.

Posted: November 18, 1997

TORONTO — For almost three decades, Gene Hart described the exploits of hockey legends such as Mario Lemieux on the radio.

Last night, Hart officially became a legend himself when he was presented with a highly coveted Hockey Hall of Fame blazer during glitzy induction ceremonies here. He joined Lemieux, Islanders great Bryan Trottier, Oilers general manager Glen Sather and Hockey News cofounder Ken McKenzie as the latest men to be enshrined into the Hall.

``This is such an honor,'' Hart said. ``It's something you'll never forget.''

As the play-by-play voice of the Flyers from Day One until he moved into an advisory capacity with the club after the 1995 season, Hart is as much a part of the club's illustrious history as Kate Smith, Dave Schultz and Eric Lindros.

He entered the Hockey Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. Hewitt was the longtime voice of both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Hockey Night in Canada back in the days when there were only six teams in the National Hockey League.

As a boy, Hart was heavily influenced by the voice of Hewitt during Hockey Night in Canada radio broadcasts. Still, who could have foreseen that listening to some guy's crackling play-by-play calls from a foreign country would so influence a boy from New York City?

But for Hart, the future was clear. He would be an NHL play-by-play man one day.

Hart's first big step toward that goal came in February 1958. On that brisk night, Hart helped out on a live transmission for the first time at a high school basketball game in Trenton.

His superiors were impressed by Hart's work, and he soon was awarded the opportunity to call games in the Atlantic City area. He gained further experience by covering as many sports as possible in South Jersey.

Nonetheless, his eventual move to Philadelphia had nothing to do with hockey.

Indeed, when Hart finally did arrive on the Philadelphia scene in 1965, his job was as a show announcer at an aquarium in the south end of the city.

Through it all, he continued with his Atlantic City hockey broadcasts, as well as broadcasts of high-school and college sports for WKDN in Camden.

Hart caught the attention of the Flyers when he contributed to the broadcasts of the Jersey Devils club they sponsored. After sending in a demo tape he made at Madison Square Garden during the second period of a Rangers-Bruins contest, he was hired as the Flyers' public-address announcer for the club's inaugural 1967 campaign.

Just a few weeks into the 1967-68 season, he became the club's play-by-play man on WCAU-AM. Along the way, he was fortunate to call the back-to-back Stanley Cup victories posted by the Broad Street Bullies in 1974 and 1975.

Hart moved from radio to television in 1992. Three years later, he became the Flyers' broadcast adviser.

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