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Flyers will still use ‘God Bless America’ for important games, but it will sound different

Lauren Hart will sing in place of Kate Smith's recorded version.

Lauren Hart will sing God Bless America at key Flyers' games this season.
Lauren Hart will sing God Bless America at key Flyers' games this season.Read moreDavid Maialetti / Staff Photographer

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Kate Smith won’t be a part of her famous song, via video, for important Flyers games at the Wells Fargo Center this season.

But her trademark song, God Bless America, will not vanish.

“Lauren Hart will sing God Bless America again prior to a big game,” said Valerie Camillo, who is the Flyers’ president of business operations, “and that is something we are all looking forward to.”

In April, the Flyers said lyrics in some of Smith’s songs from the 1930s were “incompatible” with the club’s values and evoked “painful and unacceptable themes.” They said the late singer’s rendition of the song, which had been a good-luck charm since the 1970s, would not be used. They also removed her statue and put it in hiding.

» READ MORE: Where is the Kate Smith statue? Flyers plans still undertermined.

The Flyers had been occasionally using a duet, with Hart and Smith (on video) singing God Bless America.

The Flyers were bombarded by fan reaction to the decisions on the Smith issue.

“While many supported our actions, a number of longtime Flyers fans were disappointed and have been vocal, which is difficult for us because we come to work every day focused on how to deliver a great experience and excite all of our fans about the upcoming season,” Camillo said.

Camillo said it was impossible to tell how the fans’ backlash affected ticket sales. “Since we introduced so many new ticket programs this year, it is difficult to pinpoint what kind of impact” it had on sales, she said.

“That said, inclusion stands at the center of everything we do, so we are not revisiting our decisions,” she added.

As for season tickets, the Flyers used to use full or partial plans (11 games). This year, they offer many more options, including a 22-game plan, a monthly subscription pass, a student program, and a social-viewing section. Other options are also in the works, she said.

Because of all the new options, it was impossible to compare the amount of season tickets sold this year to last year, a Flyers spokesman said. He added the organization was “pleased” with sales.

Fans’ demands and preferences are evolving, Camillo said, and they want “an experience that is superior to their at-home viewing option and fits within their schedules and budget. She said it was “incumbent for us to evolve with our fans.”

» READ MORE: Our 2019-20 Flyers season preview

Through a $265 million-plus renovation project at the Wells Fargo Center, Camillo said, “new experiences” will be available for fans, who can watch games from the new locations, such at the Center City Club, the sports lounge, and the Assembly Room.

The Flyers have a little over 1,000 seats left for their Oct. 9 home opener against the New Jersey Devils and ex-Flyer Wayne Simmonds.

Forgetting their loss

The Flyers are putting their surprising preseason defeat to the Swiss National League team behind them.

» READ MORE: Swiss jolt Carter Hart and Flyers, 4-3, in their final preseason tune-up

“You have the long trip over here and a different ice sheet and different things that aren’t in your favor,” left winger James van Riemsdyk said about Monday’s 4-3 loss in Switzerland. “You just have to find a way to battle and go from there. Obviously, we got better as the game went on and got more adjusted on what you need to do on the bigger sheet. Now the season starts Friday and we’ll be ready to go from there.”

They face the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague Friday before opening at home against New Jersey on Oct. 9. That’s followed by a three-game trip to Western Canada against Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.

Considering the Flyers started 4-7 to set the tone for their disappointing 2018-19 season, it’s important to get off to a better start.

“Obviously we didn’t do ourselves any favors early in the season, and it means you’re chasing the year from that point on,” van Riemsdyk said. “We have to put down some good foundations of blocks to start the season and then continue to build from there.”

» READ MORE: Flyers’ mission: A much better start than last year

The Flyers started last season with a 5-2 win in Las Vegas before losing to Colorado and San Jose by a combined score of 13-4.

In their history, the Flyers are 24-19-8 in openers.

Snider mural dedication

Mural Arts Philadelphia and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation will dedicate a new mural, Snider Hockey: Inspiring Our Youth.

The event, which is open to the public, will be held Saturday at noon at 10th Street and Snyder Avenue.

The mural features the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and celebrates the life and legacy of its founder, the late Ed Snider, the Flyers’ cofounder.

The design, created by local artist Jared Bader, highlights how Snider Hockey builds lives and unites communities through its on-ice and off-ice initiatives.

Bader will be at the dedication, along with Sarena Snider, one of Ed Snider’s daughters; Virlen Reyes, a Snider Hockey alumnus; Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia; Mark Squilla, a Philadelphia city councilman; and Kathryn Ott Lovell, commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.