Former Flyers winger Scott Hartnell, who retired this season, dropped the ceremonial first puck Thursday and was saluted on the video board throughout the game against Nashville at the Wells Fargo Center.
Hartnell spent seven of his 17 seasons with the Flyers. He finished with 327 career goals – 157 with the Flyers, 106 with Nashville, and 64 with Columbus.
Many of Hartnell’s teammates talked about how he was like an older brother to them.
“He was great to me, particularly my first year,” said left winger James van Riemsdyk, who broke into the NHL with the Flyers in 2009-10. “He was always somebody I could call and rely on to help me out. Different things over the course of your career, the course of your life [come up] and he’s been a great friend that way.”
When center Scott Laughton made his NHL debut during the 2012-13 season, he stayed at Hartnell’s Haddonfield home for a few weeks while he was briefly with the Flyers.
“My first day here, he invited me to live at his place,” Laughton said. “He was awesome for me as an 18-year-old coming in and kind of showing me the ropes and cooking and things like that. I was coming from junior in the middle of the year. It was the lockout season, so it was a shortened camp, and I moved in with him and didn’t have to be by myself. I owe him a lot for that for taking me under and showing me the way it’s supposed to be to be a pro.”
“When i was a young guy, I had guys take me under their wing," Hartnell said. “You want to pay it forward.”
Winger Wayne Simmonds called Hartnell “one of the greatest guys I’ve ever played with."
"When I first got here, I didn’t know many people, but I knew Hartsy because we were in the same agency and he took care of me. I owe a lot to Hartsy.”
Hartnell, 36, who recently moved back to Haddonfield and lives across the street from his best friend, former teammate Kimmo Timonen, has been doing some work for the NHL Network.
A fan favorite, Hartnell played with an edge during his career.
“When I was a younger player in this league, I watched guys who I tried to emulate, and Hartsy was one of them," Simmonds said. “He was rough and tough and could fight if he had to, and he scored goals at the same time. I think he was really good at the getting the other team off of their game. He had a heck of a career and he’s even a better human being.”