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Ed Moran: A day to remember for Flyers at Spectrum

ED SNIDER SAID it best when he was asked about the Spectrum's last year: "You can tear down the building. But you cannot erase the memories or the moments."

ED SNIDER SAID it best when he was asked about the Spectrum's last year:

"You can tear down the building. But you cannot erase the memories or the moments."

So nothing that happened Saturday afternoon, when the Flyers paid tribute to their first home, could have equaled any of the building's biggest moments, but by itself it was a day to remember.

It's not often that a team brings back as many of its former captains as it can muster, or leaves its new arena to play a final NHL game in the old one.

And so it was Saturday. The Flyers kicked off the final season of the Wachovia Spectrum with a pregame ceremony and a preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Each of the 11 former captains in attendance was introduced and each was given an ovation. Bob Clarke, who was both a hero and a villain at various times in his tenure with the Flyers, was remembered by the fans for the contributions he made on that ice with a long and loud ovation.

Only Keith Primeau, who never played a game for the Flyers in the Spectrum, was given a reception that came close to the one for Clarke.

"It's really special because [the ceremony] is honoring the building but also the teams that played here," Clarke said. "That doesn't happen too often to very many players.

"It's neat to see all the guys again coming back. There have been a lot of us who spent our life with the Flyers who are very proud of the building and also very proud of the team."

The Flyers won the game, 4-2. Mike Richards, who was introduced as the team's new captain in the pregame ceremony, scored two shorthanded goals and Simon Gagne made his return after nearly 8 months recovering from concussion symptoms.

And so the franchise that Snider started sent its old building off in style. The sellout crowd once again made the Spectrum a loud and happy place. It never came close to the ear-splitting ruckus of a playoff game, particularly the one that resulted in a Stanley Cup skate-around, but it was loud.

The gray cloud of cigarette smoke that usually hung in the rafters by the third period was absent since the building is now smoke-free, but the lighting was dimmer and the game seemed bigger, because in the Spectrum the fans are closer to the ice than in the Wachovia Center with its club boxes and luxury suites.

They make the owners more money, but nothing comes close to watching a game in an old arena like the Spectrum where the fans really can make themselves known.

Dave Poulin, captain from 1984 to 1990, summed things up nicely with his description:

"It's unique. It's a tiny, little building," he said. "The other buildings all have big infrastructures around them. Big foyers, big lobbies. The focus here is on the ice.

"It's a vertical building and somehow that made the fans closer to you physically, which made them closer to you emotionally. The best thing about a building is when guys ask you about what it was like playing in it.

"Guys from other teams talked about how much they hated coming into it. That's quite a compliment." *

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