Former Flyer Brad Marsh knows fans miss hockey.
“They’re starved for it,” he said the other day.
Marsh is trying to feed them. Oh, he’s not bringing the games back, but he’s giving them free hockey programming on Zoom with a show called “Flyers Decades,” featuring famous moments in the franchise’s history.
The first one, featuring those connected to the 1986-87 Flyers, will be Thursday at 8 p.m. Fans can tune in via the Flyers Alumni YouTube channel here.
"We hope to give fans a behind-the-scenes take on what was actually going on,” said Marsh, who serves as president of the Flyers Alumni Association.
Thursday’s guests: ex-Flyers Dave Poulin, Ron Hextall, Mark Howe, and J.J. Daigneault, along with Mike Keenan, the coach on that team. Bill Clement, who won Stanley Cups with the Flyers in 1974 and 1975, and NHL historian Liam Maguire will serve as co-moderators. The group will discuss the 1986-87 season, and much of the talk will revolve around the 1987 Stanley Cup Final between the Flyers and mighty Edmonton, which some believe was the greatest team in NHL history.
Mark Messier, one of six future Hockey Hall of Famers in the Oilers’ lineup in that series, will also be among the panelists.
Marsh said one of the topics Thursday will also be the wild brawl that took place during warmups before a 1987 playoff game between the Flyers and host Montreal. Thirty-six players were fined for their part in the 15-minute melee, which started when the Canadiens’ Claude Lemieux shot the puck into the Flyers’ empty net during warmups.
“Something like that never happened before and will never happen again,” Marsh said of the brawl.
As for the epic 1987 Finals, the Flyers lost, but they took the powerful Oilers to the limit, overcoming either a two- or three-goal deficit in their three wins. Edmonton won in seven games.
Fans tuning in can watch and hear the discussion but won’t be able to speak to the panel.
The conversation will undoubtedly turn to Game 6, when defenseman Daigneault snapped a 2-2 tie and gave the Flyers a 3-2 win, scoring on a long slap shot with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left at the reverberating Spectrum.
“I was on the bench and had a perfect view of the goal going in,” Marsh said. “I’m told it was the loudest the Spectrum has ever been. I don’t know who was louder, the fans or the players. It was one of the few times the reaction of the fans and players was one and the same. Fans were screaming and jumping out of their seats and we were screaming and jumping off the bench."
“It was an incredible moment in an incredible building,” said Daigneault, 54, now the head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. “It wasn’t only loud when it happened, but it was loud for the last five or six minutes of the game. Everybody was standing.”
The Flyers took Edmonton to the limit despite not having injured star Tim Kerr (shoulder), who had 58 goals in the regular season, in the Finals. Only Edmonton’s Wayne Gretzky (62 goals) had more goals than Kerr that season.
Kerr “almost definitely” would have made a difference, Marsh said. “You take all those goals out of your lineup, it’s going to be a factor -- whether it’s Tim Kerr scoring, or them paying more attention to him and that allows somebody else to score.”
Marsh said some future shows may include the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup champs; the 35-game unbeaten streak in 1979-80; the five-overtime win over Pittsburgh -- the longest game in modern NHL history -- in 2000; and the unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010. He is also trying to get Leon Stickle, the official whose blown call in Game 6 of the 1980 Finals might have cost the Flyers the Cup, as one of his future guests.
“There’s so much to talk about,” Marsh said. “The list goes on and on.”
Marsh, a former defenseman who spent seven of his NHL 15 seasons with the Flyers, said he plans on putting together panels "on a regular basis” while the season is paused because of the coronavirus outbreak. No dates have been set for the numerous future shows, Marsh said, because it depends on the availability of the players.
Marsh, 62, is the Flyers’ director of community development and he coaches the Warriors, a Flyers-sponsored team composed of players who suffered disabilities while in the military.