Saturday, September 27, 2008

Flyers say goodbye to Spectrum, hello to Simon Gagne

While the Flyers are still gearing up for the regular season, they played one of their most important preseason games Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Not only was this preseason game the final time the Flyers would play another NHL team in the old Spectrum, the game also featured the return of Simon Gagne, who hadn't taken the ice for the Flyers since February 10th.

The Spectrum, which was the home of the last Philadelphia sports franchise to win a championship, got a proper send-off today as the Flyers welcomed back a number of former team captains to celebrate the history of the building. Captains like Bobby Clarke, Eric Desjardins and Bill Barber were all honored before the game, although there were a few notable former captains who were absent from the ceremony, like Eric Lindros and last years captain, Jason Smith. The Flyers haven't played their final game in the Spectrum, as they will play one more game in the building against their minor league affiliate, the Phantoms, on October 7th.

Even more important for the current Flyers squad was the return of Simon Gagne to the ice. While Gagne didn't score a goal, he did have an assist and looked smooth on the ice as he shook off some of the rust. The Flyers experimented for most of the game with their new first line that features Gagne on the left wing, Mike Richards at center and Danny Briere on the other wing. If Gagne returns to his 30 goal form, that line will be a force.

As for the game itself, the Flyers defeated the Hurricanes 4-2. Richards showed all of the former Flyer captains in the building that the Flyers are in good hands with their current captain, scoring a pair of shorthanded goals. Richards has had a phenomenal preseason, scoring 4 goals so far, and he looks more than ready for the season to start. Braydon Coburn also added a goal and an assist for the Flyers.

The Flyers should be happy with the sendoff they have given to the Spectrum. They played their last NHL game in the building and went out the way they came in: a winner.

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