Joel Quenneville's first game in Philadelphia came when he skated with the Toronto Maples Leafs at the Spectrum, just missing the Flyers' two championships and the days when Kate Smith performed "God Bless America" live.
"I'm not that old," quipped the Chicago Blackhawks coach, who made his NHL debut in 1978.
Quenneville, 51, is in his 12th postseason as a head coach and in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time. (He did win a Cup as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.) His Blackhawks enter Game 3 of the final with a 2-0 lead in a series that shifts to the Wachovia Center, a modern arena that sits next to the Spectrum where the Broad Street Bullies won titles in 1974 and 1975.
"It was a tough building," Quenneville said of the old Spectrum. "They had a lot of guys that some nights, depending on the score, would get ugly. It got ugly a few times. But back in the day, I mean, there were a lot of nights where there were long nights. When I say long nights there could have been five-on-fives or bench-clearing brawls. But that's a thing of the past."
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The league has long since clamped down on brawls, but even these kinder, gentler Flyers have had a distinct home-ice advantage. Philly is 7-1 this postseason and has outscored opponents 28-14 at the Wachovia Center.
"We're a confident group here in this building and we know our fans are going to be crazy about this game," Flyers forward Simon Gagne said. "It's going to be loud. I think our fans are going to be ready."
And then there's the Kate Smith factor. The Flyers are 8-1 this season when the video of her famed rendition of "God Bless America" is played on the big screen with the accompaniment of Lauren Hart, a song performed in place of the national anthem. The one win outside of the playoffs came when the Flyers used a shootout victory to beat the New York Rangers and gain entry into the postseason on the last day of the regular season.
According to Flyershistory.net, the Flyers are 85-22-4 when Smith sings. Smith, who died in 1986 at age 79, became a lucky charm and sang live at the Spectrum before Flyers games on four occasions, including once in each of the Flyers' NHL title runs.
Not that you can hear her for most the song as the Flyers fans whip themselves into frenzy.
"It's going to be loud," Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said. "They're going to be all over us and supporting their team. So I think we're all looking forward to that."
Sharp played at the Spectrum, home of the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms until 2006, and he also knows what's it's like to don the Flyers uniform when things haven't exactly gone as planned at at Wachovia Center.
"The Orange Crush comes out and fans are very knowledgeable, and certainly let the home team know if they're not playing well," said Sharp, who played parts of three seasons with Flyers before he was traded to the Blackhawks. "it's going to be a fun atmosphere for everybody. As a team, we come out to quiet them the best we can."