Cheers for the Flyers

I was once a Boston Bruins fan, back in the days when Bobby Orr was playing defense and Phil Esposito center, so I detested the Philadelphia Flyers. Today, though, they get a lot of credit: they invited Sarah Palin to drop the puck for their game against the New York Rangers (another team I couldn’t stand, long ago). It sounds like Palin got a warm reception and, as usual, she looked like a million bucks. In this photo she is shaking hands with Scott Gomez, the Rangers’ assistant captain, who is from Alaska:

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It’s nice to have a momentary respite from the hate.

By the way, I’ve followed a lot of athletes over the years, in a number of sports, but Bobby Orr was the best. Sorry, there’s no point arguing about it. He was the best.

UPDATE: Well, I don’t know, judge for yourself. The always-classy New York Times says:

[W]hen Palin came out onto the Wachovia Center ice Saturday night — greeted by resounding (almost deafening) boos from the Flyers crowd — the two hockey players who had no choice but to appear with her in that photo op were turned into props in a political campaign.

To me the boos don’t sound resounding, they sound like they’re coming from about the number of boorish Democrats that you’d expect in a Philadelphia crowd. Maybe you had to be there to judge for sure.

FURTHER UPDATE: Thinking about those Boston Bruins teams reminded me of one of my favorite stories. In the early 1970s the first matches between NHL (i.e., Canadian, at that time) and Russian hockey teams took place. There was a series of all-star games that produced some memorable hockey and a lot of patriotic fervor.

One of the first times that NHL players went to Russia to play–maybe the first–Phil Esposito was one of the star players. He and his teammates were staying in a hotel in, as I recall, Moscow. One night, with little else to do, they started drinking and before long were pretty drunk. That led to some dark speculation to the effect that the KGB was most likely bugging their rooms. Esposito fixated on that likelihood and got the other players to search the living room that they were in for bugs.

Eventually, they went so far as to roll up the carpet in the room. Sure enough–there, in the middle of the now-exposed floor, was a metal box with four screws in the corners. Esposito and the other Canadians were convinced that this was where the bug was hidden. Someone came up with a screwdriver, and Esposito started loosening the screws so that they could open the box and expose the KGB’s bug.

Espositio worked feverishly until the fourth screw started to loosen. The lid on the box began to rise, and then, from fifteen feet below, the hockey players heard a loud noise–the sound of a chandelier crashing to the ground in the room below them.

I swear to God it’s a true story.

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