From humble beginnings - spurred by the Broad Street Bullies' success in the 1970s - Philly has become a hockey hotbed. Consider:
The Flyers, who annually are one of the league's top teams in home attendance, have had 150 consecutive Wells Fargo Center sellouts.
Fifty student-athletes from the Greater Philadelphia region participated in Division I college hockey programs this season.
More than 100 high schools compete annually for the Flyers Cup scholastic championship.
There are 14,000 youth hockey players in the Philadelphia area, and three former local players are in the NHL: Ottawa's Bobby Ryan, Winnipeg's Eric Tangradi, and Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau. In addition, defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, a Sewell, N.J., native, is expected to be a first-round draft pick Friday.
The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation has 3,000 players, of which 74 percent are minority participants. Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, donated $6.5 million to match a state commitment to refurbish and renovate four city-owned rinks.
The movement to bring the draft to Philadelphia was spearheaded by Peter Luukko, who was the president of the Flyers before resigning last December.
Needle said the draft will put about $10 million into the Philadelphia economy, thanks to increased business at restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions.
Attending the draft is free, and fans quickly gobbled up the nearly 14,000 tickets for each day - the first round is Friday, while rounds two through seven are Saturday. For late ticket releases, fans should visit PhiladelphiaFlyers.com/DraftStandBy. The Flyers said additional tickets may become available.
A Fan Fest will be held at Xfinity Live, featuring hockey-themed and kid-friendly activities. Admission is free to the event, which will be held Friday from 3 to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.