PHILADELPHIA – It’s only fitting Paul Holmgren and Rick Tocchet were inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame at the same time on Tuesday night.
Team founder and chairman Ed Snider would have wanted it that way. After all, he was a big fan of the Broad Street Bullies rough-house style of play and “Homer’’ and “Toc’’ epitomized that approach to hockey.
At a pre-induction press conference, Holmgren talked about the culture Snider created, how it bonded generations of players and how it created a family atmosphere which exists to this day.
“He’s the guy who started it all,’’ Holmgren said. “He’s the one who created the legacy that is the Flyers. It’s lived on for 50-some-odd years. He created the family atmosphere which still lives on today. Everything here is first-class and that started with Mr. Snider. We all owe him a lot.’’
The Flyers began to enjoy success in the ‘70s and that winning tradition carries on.
Snider passed away in 2016 but his legacy remains strong..
“For all the people who have had the pleasure to work for this franchise, we’ve had that by being in his presence,’’ Holmgren said. “We all miss him.’’
Holmgren said his favorite memory was his first game as a Flyer. Tocchet’s favorite is Game 6 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals when J.J. Daigneault’s goal set up a roar that nearly blew the roof off the old Spectrum.
“I’ve never heard a building that loud,’’ Tocchet said. “It was just the pure emotion of the game.’’
Holmgren did more for the Flyers than literally anyone, from player to coach to GM to president. He was traded away and fired but always came back.
“(Bob) Clarke pushed to have me back,’’ Holmgren said. “After I got traded (to Minnesota in 1984), and then retired, Mike Keenan took a chance on me. He wouldn’t have done that without Clarkie I’m sure. Mike was a good enough guy to bring me in and train me. But it’s easy to come back to an organization like the Flyers.’’
Tocchet said he learned how to play like a Flyer by hanging arund guys such as Holmgren.
“When I got drafted, just hanging around Homer and those guys, they taught me a lot,’’ Tocchet said. “I learned what it meant to be a Flyer. I appreciate that they taught us that.’’
For Holmgren, playing for demanding fans was not a problem.
“It was a family atmosphere,’’ Holmgren said. “It’s a great passionate city with an unbelievable fan base. It lives and dies with its team. What’s not to like? I guess I was in the right place at the right time. They say it’s a tough city but I don’t think any of us look it that way. We’re competitive. When we didn’t play well, we probably booed ourselves.’’