As Tom Marechek and Jake Bergey’s jerseys ascend into the rafters for a second time, their hope is that fans will be as influential for this new Wings team as they were for them.
“I just hope they regain their fan base back,” said Marechek. “We had the best in the world for years. The fans gave us the energy to win those championships. If they can gain their fan base back that’s the number one thing."
The old Wings raised the jerseys of three of their previous players - Marechek in 2006, Dallas Eliuk in 2009 and Bergey in 2014 - into the rafters, and this new Wings team will raise their jerseys again Saturday in the new team’s inaugural season opener.
When the National Lacrosse League decided to return to Philadelphia, the new franchise chose the Wings' old name. Marechek and Bergey feel it’s special that this new Wings team is honoring its accomplishments.
"It kinda creates a link between the past and the future and the present," said Bergey. "Just because everyone was pretty shocked when the Wings left."
The previous Wings won six championships. Marechek and Bergey don’t think that would be possible without the fans. And that was especially true when they played the Toronto Rock in the 2001 championship game. The Rock had knocked the Wings out of the postseason the previous two years and were on the verge of winning their third straight championship. But the Wings went into the Air Canada Centre (now called Scotiabank Arena) and won their fifth championship in 10 years. Marechek and Bergey called it the highlight of their careers as Wings players.
“That’s kinda one that sticks out in my mind, it was pretty special to me," Bergey.