Mike Knuble kept sniffling like he had a runny nose.
It wasn’t a cold. Far from there.
It was a Flyer carrying his wounds from a charity contest.
No, Monday night’s 2021 Flyers alumni game at Wells Fargo Center was not bloodless.
As an appetizer at Tuesday night’s Flyers Hall of Fame induction ceremony, former players from different decades gave fans a throwback to the past. As Paul Holmgren and Rick Tocchet made their way to the franchise’s consecration before the Flyers played against the Flames, the two were behind the benches for a fun alumni game. Team Holmgren beat Team Tocchet, 6-5, in a night in which all ticket proceeds went to Flyers Charities and the Flyers Alumni Association.
Scottie Upshall had a hat trick to lead Team Holmgren, which also received goals from Joffrey Lupul, Todd Fedoruk and Eric Lindros.
“I really enjoyed playing in this building, playing in front of these fans,” said Upshall, who played for the Flyers from 2007 to 2009, said. “Having the chance to come back and do it again for Holmgren, who was our architect of our team… it felt good to be in the room again, wearing the jersey and drinking beers after the game.”
Simon Gagné (two), Riley Cote, Brad Marsh and Donald Brashear recorded tallies for Team Tocchet.
“Toch, the way he played,” Knuble said. “How could Philly not love a guy like that?”
Joe Watson took the ice at 78 and Reggie Leach at 71. Robert Esche, Neil Little and Mike McKenna played in goal.
To the delight of fans, Bill Duffy found himself between the posts in the third period. Duffy is president of the Flyers Warriors program and a veteran of the US Air Force. He also made impressive saves.
A fair bit of blood flowed from Knuble’s face on the ice in the second period. The Double Flyer (2005 to 2009 and 2013) was hit by a deflected puck.
“The guys here are great hockey players, they pass too hard,” Knuble said with a laugh. “I think Eric was trying to go see John [LeClair] through the ice and Kjell Samuelsson walked through the middle of it. He took off his stick and hit me pretty good – hard. I don’t think in all my years of playing I don’t think I’ve ever hit that flesh with a puck before, with that kind of speed. “
Knuble returned for the third period.
“It’s really boring at 49,” he said of the damage to his face. “Not as fun when you’re that age.”
“A hockey guy,” Upshall replied. “A real hockey guy.”
“Any smart guy would have stopped,” Knuble continued. “But I’m just too dumb to stop playing.”
Knuble said he missed warm-ups because his flights were delayed. He entered the ice about five minutes before the scheduled puck play at 7 p.m. ET.
“The support from the fans, like, that was crazy,” Knuble said.
Upshall and Knuble both enjoyed playing a part in the festivities honoring Holmgren and Tocchet.
“I almost hit Eric Lindros with that shot from the crossbar so it wouldn’t have been pretty. He loved it,” said Upshall. “I think everyone here had so much fun. I’ve always admired Rick Tocchet, the way he played the game, seeing him honored like that; seeing him on TV, on TNT and having fun with it. this show I think is great for hockey It was fun I love coming back and chatting with you guys Flyer Hockey is awesome hockey.
Tocchet exuded a sturdiness and scoring ability, playing 11-season games with the Flyers and going into the Stanley Cup Final twice in the 1980s.
Holmgren has served the Flyers as a player, president, general manager, senior advisor (his current role), assistant general manager, head coach, assistant coach and director of professional recruiting.
“Paul was probably my favorite GM and he’s been the most involved with me in my career,” Knuble said. “Helped guide my career, so I certainly hold him in high regard.… He’s a Flyer from start to finish.
“Just phenomenal representatives of the Flyer jersey and the organization.”
Knuble’s nose started to bleed as he walked from the locker room to the press conference room. While being interviewed, the Flyers’ gaming operations coordinator, Allie Samuelsson, courteously placed napkins on the press conference table for him.
Knuble never used them – a fitting finish to a set of old Flyers.
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