All week at NBC Sports Philadelphia, we're debating the biggest villains in Philly sports history. Today, we look at the Flyers. You can vote here.
Everyone has a defining moment as a sports fan — something that makes you realize just how devoted and passionate you truly are to your favorite team. Often times, those moments involve championships, trophies and parades while celebrating … other occasions, it could fall under the category of absolutely soul crushing.
Unfortunately, that moment for me (and probably for many others) was a bad one — probably the worst I’ll encounter during my time supporting for the Flyers ... hopefully — and it has everything to do with my Philly Sports Villain, Patrick Kane.
When that name is mentioned around Flyers fans, you’re instantly transported back in time to the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Final, even if you don’t want to be. More specifically, Game 6, at 4:06 into overtime, when one of the most controversial goals against in franchise history occurred.
After it happened, there was merely a brief pause, probably under a minute in real time before everyone began to realize what happened — though when it was happening live, it felt like an eternity.
Once Kane started celebrating, those around him on the ice were still battling it out, those watching live from the Wachovia Center and around North American were still completely engaged, not even realizing the fate that had just been sealed for Stanley Cup Champions.
(I accidentally re-watched the goal during the process of writing this and it was the first time I’ve seen it since I saw the overhead review during the game. It sucked.)
Kane had single-handedly ended one of the most thrilling playoff runs I have seen in my lifetime and to this day, thinking about it never gets any easier.
A playoff run that was clinched on the very last day of the regular season in a shootout against the Rangers. No one had any real expectations for the Flyers in those first few games on the race to The Cup against the Devils, but when it was clear they weren’t backing down without a fight, they became a dark horse — and boy did that transpire into the Semi Finals against the Bruins when history was made.
In one of the best comeback series in modern NHL history, the Flyers came back from a three-game deficit to beat the Bruins in Boston. It was in that moment of time where fans truly believed in their team and the run that was unfolding right before their eyes.
The Canadiens in the Conference Finals were not a cake walk, but there was no doubt this wasn’t the last team the Flyers were fated to face.
The hype, the intensity, the history being made in the process, the championship drought that finally looked like it was going to come to an end … was crushed by the weirdest goal anyone has ever witnessed.
To make matters even worse, that tragic game-winning goal was named the Goal of the Decade by the NHL. It also feels like that has become a classic game that is re-aired at least once a month. My guess is the ratings are incredibly low every time in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.
This Stanley Cup run from the Blackhawks ignited a significant run over the next stretch of years, also being deemed victorious in the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons. Watching Kane lift the cup as many times as he did in the span of five years always brought things back to when he won it all for the first time in Philadelphia.
When you think of the word “villain,” you tend to imagine a character in any story whose motives and actions are done as a way to upset those involved. While I also grew up during the great Sidney Crosby vs. the Flyers era, there had never been a moment in his career that made me feel the way Kane’s overtime goal had.
In my story, Crosby is — simply put — just a bad guy. You hate playing against him, booing reigns down on the ice every time he skates in Philadelphia and he helped create a rivalry that made hockey enjoyable while growing up.
Kane is — in every sense of the word — a villain.
Since Game 6, Kane and the Blackhawks have seen the Flyers on 15 separate occasions in the regular season, where No. 88 currently holds 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists).
He also edged out Eric Lindros in another NHL site ranking for the best player to ever wear No. 88 in the league. Lindros is a cardinal player in franchise history, and even though he played in a completely different era than Kane, he still found a way to get under the skin of Flyers fans.
It’s been just over 10 years since I felt defeated as a Flyers fan because of Kane — as I’m sure many others feel the same. The research that went into writing this restored memories I hoped to lock away for a lifetime — but it was all necessary to prove the point that Kane is the ultimate Philly Sports Villain — at least in my story.
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