The Flyers faced a possible Stanley Cup elimination game Wednesday night, a familiar scenario this postseason but one that nonetheless filled their fans with angst, anticipation, and alcohol.
The steady rain cut down on the pregame parking lot activity outside the Wachovia Center. But 90 minutes before Game 6, the orange-flavored main concourse was swirling like Tang in a blender.
Long-ago-Flyers Bernie Parent, Gary Dornhoefer, and Bob Kelly appeared to be hiding between a pillar and a corridor booth. Even when they emerged, though, a surprising number of fans walked right past the graying legends without so much as a second glance.
There were a dozen or so Chicago Blackhawks fans cruising the concourse. One was tempting fate by marching through the crowds, shouting "Let's Go, Blackhawks!" That's as risky as walking through the South Side of Chicago screaming "Let's Go, Cubs."
With the Phillies-Marlins game having been postponed, the Phillie Phanatic was bouncing around hordes of Flyers fans. His garish green fur clashed badly with the ubiquitous orange.
Hundreds of fans were wearing Flyers jerseys that had been autographed by current and former players. Because of that, some said, the tops had never been washed, a frightening proposition for those bravely walking alongside. (Maybe that's why Parent, Dornhoefer, and Kelly were hiding.)
There were so many fans in jerseys, in fact, that after a few laps, it seemed clear that their choices were as much a statement about Flyers hockey as fashion.
Those shrinking few who opted to pay homage to the Broad Street Bullies by wearing Clarke, Schultz, and Kelly sweaters seemed to be saying, "We don't like these new sissy rules. We want to see opponents carried out of here on stretchers again."
Those in Lindros and LeClair jerseys: "We love the Flyers, but we can't stand Ed Snider and Bob Clarke."
Those in Kerr, Propp, Hextall, or Poulin sweaters: "We've been wearing these since 1987, and we'll continue to do so until we win another Cup."
Those with the Downie on their backs: "We're clearly sociopathic."
Those who wore jerseys acknowledging some very early Flyers, such as Favell, Angotti or Kennedy: "These kids today. They don't know anything about real hockey. They should have been here when we played the Oakland Seals."
Those in black jerseys seemed less educated and edgier than fans in traditional orange.
Those wearing their own names on their jerseys were, not surprisingly, alone.