The coronavirus outbreak has changed our lives and challenged us in many ways. But with each passing day, there are new stories that reaffirm the positive and demonstrate the generosity of the human spirit. This also rings true with the Flyers' alumni as they continue their work to support the local community.
The Flyers Alumni chapter, led by former Flyer Brad Marsh, began with the veterans from the back-to-back Stanley Cup teams of the 70s and has continued to thrive with leaders emerging from members of the 80s teams, like former Flyers captain Dave Poulin.
“A group that goes through the things we did has a different affinity,” Poulin said recently in a video interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Michael Barkann. “Part of it was battling Mike Keenan for four years.”
Keenan, the former Flyers coach, had the reputation of being tough. Poulin said playing under Keenan, in addition to the tragic death of goaltender Pelle Lindbergh, made for an impenetrable bond with members of those teams from the mid-80s.
Poulin went on to give credit to the late Ed Snider, who founded the Flyers in 1967 and was the face of the franchise for the better part of five decades.
“It all starts with Ed Snider and what he meant to the Flyers,” Poulin said.
Although the Flyers entered the league as part of the second six expansion, Poulin said the organization has an original six feel. Poulin knows that feeling well having also played for the Boston Bruins, an original six franchise, for part of his career.
“It’s the closest thing to an original six,” Poulin said. “To have that basis of that group to do the [charitable] work through, it’s so easy to stay attached to that city.”
Over the years, the Flyers Alumni Association has created several programs, including the Flyers Warriors, a team of military veterans with at least a 10 percent disability that provides the camaraderie of being part of a team and organization. Poulin said the success of these programs and initiatives comes down to leadership.
“A lot of it goes to the leadership of Brad Marsh," he said.
While players and alumni from all the different sports leagues have made donations and shown tremendous generosity, Marsh said the hockey community is lucky.
“We’re so lucky in the NHL, our superstars are all down-to-earth guys and willing to help out even in retirement,” Marsh said recently in a video interview with Barkann.
While Flyers Alumni has not been able to hold its recent events as planned, it has done what it can to continue its efforts to support the local community. In mid-March, the alumni were set to host an event called “Friday Night Fights,” an old-school hockey fan’s dream that included watching old hockey fights and discussing them. The catered event, which was to include appearances by many former Flyers, had to be postponed and that’s when Marsh and company sprung into action.
“The food [for the event] was already cooked," he said, "so we donated it to a food bank in Camden, so it went to good use.”
Marsh shared that the Flyers Alumni Association remains committed to its charitable work with plans to reschedule events that had to be canceled because of the current situation.
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