Glistening under the spotlight at center ice, Bernie Parent called it one last chance to wave and thank Flyers fans for their support.
Last night, the Flyers presented Parent - their all-time leading goaltender in nearly every statistical category - with his banner that swayed in the rafters at the recently departed Spectrum since 1979.
"It's with a little mixed feelings," Parent said. "It's a reward but at the same time, it's almost like you're moving on to the next phase. This will probably be the last time you get on the ice and wave to people who supported you, so it's a beautiful thing.
"It brings back a lot of good memories."
Parent, 65, was the first Flyer to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984. He backstopped the Flyers to their only two Stanley Cups in franchise history and won both the Vezina Trophy (goaltender of the year) and Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) back-to-back in 1974 and 1975.
Parent - who lives in Cherry Hill during the winter and on his boat docked in Wildwood in the summer - said he is continually amazed by the support he receives from Flyers fans.
"We won two Stanley Cups in 40 years," he said. "It's not like we've won every year. And they've been supporting us all the time and it's nice to be back with them."
With 50 career shutouts, Parent still has 30 more than the next closest challenger (Roman Cechmanek). He also holds numerous individual season records: wins by a goaltender (47), which still stands as an NHL record for regulation wins; shutouts (12) and most consecutive starts by a goaltender (37). He was also a four-time All-Star.
Nearly 40 years removed from winning the Cup, it still rings true that "only the Lord saves more than Bernie Parent." He has also saved himself a few times. Parent has successfully overcome a reported alcohol addiction, divorce and different financial struggles.
He is actually writing a book, "My Journey through Fear and Risk," that is not solely focused on hockey but tells his life story in attempt to help others "overcome the ups and downs of life."
"I consider myself a wolf," Parent said. "Not a dog, but a wolf. If you look back at the dog, you make the comparison: The dog is well-fed, stays warm in a house, has a lot of friends. But he's always on a leash, or inside a fence. Then you look at the wolf. You get the freedom, baby. You starve a few times, but it's worth it."
Through it all, Parent knows he could have been ancient history in the meantime.
"I had breakfast with Moses that day," Parent said when asked about the Flyers' first Cup victory in 1974. "It's been a long time."
Instead, Parent - along with Bob Clarke and fellow ambassador Bob "The Hound" Kelly - has been one of the faces of the franchise.
"Let's face it, out of sight, out of mind," Parent said. "The Flyers, starting with [chairman Ed] Snider, have done a great job as far as keeping us alive in front of the public as the years go by. It's been 30-some years. Three different generations came along and, yet, 10-year-olds kids ask, 'Can I have your autograph?' The tradition goes on."
Now, even with his banner in tow, that tradition will never die.
"I haven't focused on it anymore since I've understood that there will be no extension offer before they move someone else."
- Flyers forward Ville Leino, yesterday to a Finnish newspaper, confirming a Nov. 24 Daily News report that his contract extension may have to wait until the offseason since the Flyers are hamstrung by the "tagging" rule that limits them from exceeding this season's salary cap in next season's contract commitments.