At end of an era, Flyers forever The '74 and '75 champions ruled supreme once more at final Flyers Spectrum game.

Posted: October 08, 2008

"Win today and we'll walk together forever."

- Written on a blackboard by Flyers coach Fred Shero before the 1974 Stanley Cup final.

They walked together onto the Spectrum ice - site of their dramatic Stanley Cup championship 34 years ago - for one last time last night.

Bernie, Clarkie and Moose. Big Bird, Hound and Hammer. Dorny, Reggie the Rifle and Little "O."

And many, many others.

This was the house where a blue-collar, pugnacious group of shaggy-haired players - the Broad Street Bullies, the Bulletin's Jack Chevalier labeled them - triggered parades that drew more than 2 million people in 1974 and again in 1975 after they won Cups and became a part of the city's sports lore.

This was the house, the one the gap-toothed kid from Flin Flon built, where opponents feared to visit, where so many celebrated moments were immortalized, where Gene Hart told us, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Flyers are going to win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup!"

This is the place where Kate Smith sounded better than Springsteen, where 17,007 was a magic number, where they scored an epic 1-0 Cup-clinching win over the favored Boston Bruins on May 19, 1974 - and made Shero's words become prophetic.

Walk together forever?

That's right, the Stanley Cup champs of yesteryear said before last night's farewell tribute to the Spectrum, which will be torn down in about 11 months to make room for an entertainment/dining/shopping complex.

"When you're an athlete, everybody has cliches and uses phrases that you kind of throw out there, but that's the one that has really stuck with me wherever I go," said former Flyer Terry Crisp before the Flyers played in the Spectrum - a preseason game against their AHL affiliate, the Phantoms - for the last time ever.

"He was dead-on right," added Crisp, now a broadcaster with the Nashville Predators. "The greatest memories and the greatest times are after you're out of the game and you get back together again like this."

In an emotional pregame ceremony, players from the Flyers' two Stanley Cup champions were introduced to the crowd by P.A. announcer Lou Nolan, and the banners from the 1974 and 1975 titles were hoisted to the rafters.

Earlier in the evening, all agreed that Shero's blackboard message was appropriate.

The players have remained close - they get together at local golf tournaments and charity events - even though the championships were won more than three decades ago.

"Winning does breed closer friendships because it takes so much to win," said former winger Bill Barber, who has homes in South Jersey and Florida. "Even in those days, it was difficult to win a championship, and we were fortunate to win back-to-back - and even the third year, go to the Finals. I think the city at that time was starving for a team to win and the Flyers were the team, and our friendships have lasted. There's a large contingent of ex-players who still live in this area and there's a reason for it."

"It's a beautiful friendship we all have and that's something I'll cherish for the rest of my life," said Bernie Parent, the goalie on the Cup teams.

While former enforcer Dave Schultz got choked up when he talked about the Spectrum and said he would be sad to see it torn down, Parent had a different view.

"I'm a firm believer that any material things in life will eventually have to go," said Parent, a motivational speaker who does public-relations work for the Flyers and lives on a boat in Cape May in the summer and in Haddonfield in the winter. "But the one thing you can't take away are the beautiful memories that we have of the people, the crowds, the building and winning the Stanley Cup."

Schultz, who runs a few businesses in South Jersey and is also a motivational speaker, said he is amazed at how the players from the Stanley Cup teams are "still embraced" by fans "after all these years."

As for last night's reunion with his former teammates, Schultz said he felt as if he was back in the Spectrum locker room.

"The Hound [Bob Kelly] jumps on me and tells me I had no talent, and Eddie Van Impe and Joe Watson and Bernie are on each other like it was 30 years ago," said a smiling Schultz. ". . . It's like we never left."

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi

at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.

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