Rick Tocchet went to the Eagles-Chiefs game at Lincoln Financial Field with some friends back in early October.
Four days before the announcement that he'd be heading into the Flyers Hall of Fame, Tocchet was reminded of his love for Philadelphia sports fans.
A power forward who personified the city's spirit, Tocchet received some friendly hellos as he walked into the Linc.
"You hear, 'Yo, Toch, how you doing buddy?'" Tocchet said at his induction speech Tuesday night. "'Hey, Toch, how are you, man?'"
And some ribbing, in true Philly fashion: "Yo, Toch, Pittsburgh sucks!"
Tocchet played for both the Flyers and Penguins. He won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh.
"Just never change, guys," Tocchet said with a smile. "You guys are the best."
With the current team and coaching staff watching from the bench Tuesday night, Tocchet and Paul Holmgren were enshrined in the Flyers Hall of Fame at the Wells Fargo Center during a pregame ceremony.
In their speeches from center ice, Tocchet and Holmgren expressed their gratitude for many, including Ed Snider. The Flyers' iconic founder died in April 2016, but his legacy lives on through Holmgren and others.
"Mr. Snider, you created this team, you forged a legacy," Holmgren said. "And for all of us who have had the pleasure and joy of being able to work for or be a part of this organization, you have touched our lives to such an impeccable level. We all miss you."
With nice touch, Tocchet and Holmgren each concluded by thanking the fans.
"I don't think there's a better fan base in the NHL," Tocchet said. "You guys support the team, you guys want to win as bad as anybody."
Tocchet played for six teams in his NHL career. The current commentator has been a head coach of two teams and has a pair of Stanley Cup rings as an assistant with the Penguins.
"I'm sure the players will tell you, there's no better place to play," Tocchet said, pointing back to the Flyers' bench. "Even the guys that came this year, it's a great place to play."
Holmgren has worked 40-plus years in Philadelphia, serving the Flyers as a player, president, general manager, senior advisor (his current role), assistant general manager, head coach, assistant coach and director of pro scouting. He played 500 career games for the franchise and 67 in the playoffs.
"You say it’s a tough city to play in; I don’t know if any of us look at it that way," Holmgren said in a press conference a few hours before the ceremony. "We’re all competitive. When the team’s not going well, we’d probably be booing ourselves. That’s the way we are."
Holmgren, who turns 66 years old in a couple of weeks, noticed how the Flyers way was prevalent in the Team Holmgren vs. Team Tocchet alumni game Monday night.
"When Toch’s team scored two quick goals, it was like a switch went off on our bench, a competitive switch. Nobody wants to lose. Joe Watson's 96 years old (he's really 78) and he's pissed off, he doesn’t want to lose the game," Holmgren said with a laugh. "Our whole lives, we've had that. And we love it that the fans have it. We really do. You'd would rather be cheered, but we've all been booed."
Holmgren said his love affair with the fans of Philadelphia started in March 1976 when he played his first game.
"Yes, there's been bad times. Yes, there's been good times," Holmgren said, capping off his speech. "But you guys have been constant. Without you all, there is no Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers fans are the greatest fans in all of America.
"It's been a true honor for me to work for you people and to be a part of your society and your city. I love it here, God bless and let's go Flyers!"
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