Flyers and Rangers Create Pre-Winter Classic Party: Fan Reaction

Alumni games are similar to high school reunions, without the adoring crowds.

Lindros was one of many legends to join in the pre-Winter Classic party.
Sean O'Brien

The pre-Winter Classic clash of legends proved to be monstrously successful in every possible way. The outdoor game in Philadelphia, Pa. itself was great. But, the post-game festivities were also infinitely memorable.

The party

First of all, the National Hockey League and Citizens Bank Park crews need to be strongly credited with turning a baseball stadium into a hockey palace.

The pre-game introductions and surrounding ceremony were true sports theater. And then there was the game itself.

Philadelphia Flyers superstar Eric Lindros and Hall of Fame goaltender Bernie Parent were part of numerous storylines that this event offered.

The gathering allowed Lindros to reconnect with the Flyers' faithful and Parent to perform his special brand of crease magic for the first time in over thirty years.

On the other side, former Flyers coach Mike Keenan and one of the best hockey players of all-time, Mark Messier led the New York Rangers effort.

How great it was to see so many Flyers and Rangers legends, from numerous eras, all on the same ice surface. One of the most satisfying aspects was seeing how happy all of the players were as they performed on their ice stage for the 45,808 who were in attendance.

Post-game

Walking into the Philadelphia Phillies locker room after the game and seeing four decades of Flyers' greats was surreal to say the least.

Imagine seeing Ron Hextall, Eric Lindros, Bernie Parent and Bob Clarke in four corners of a room. Now picture Brian Propp, Bill Barber, Reggie Leach, Keith Primeau, Mark Recchi, Eric Dejardins, Bob Kelly, Joe Watson, Jimmy Watson, Jeremy Roenick and John LeClair somewhere in between numerous other very familiar faces.

The players and coaches didn't receive the typically routine interview questions either. Instead, everyone in that room spoke with each other about the game we loved.

The post-game get-together lasted nearly an hour, which is far longer than any standard question-and-answer session normally does.

Yes, the Flyers alumni enjoyed reminiscing as much as we did.

Call for hockey sainthood

All of the individuals who originally created and have since developed the Winter Classic should be put on a future list for Hall of Fame induction. No, they should be nominated for sainthood.

Sean O'Brien was born in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades. Read his Sports Blog: Insight and follow him on Twitter @ SeanyOB

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Updated Sunday, Jan 1, 2012