There's something about being a dad that can make even a Penguin likable. Father's Day is pretty special.
I've probably written something similar here on previous Father's Days, but I think it bears repeating: For most of us, our dads are the reason we are who we are, and in my case, that means sitting here on a plane, on my way to a hockey game, writing this on a hockey website. I love hockey because of my dad, and hockey is the biggest non-human thing in my life because of his influence.
I vaguely remember my first game with my dad, sometime in the early 90s at the Spectrum. But it's hard to forget the hundreds that followed.
There was the time when the Hartford Whalers won in overtime and sitting on the couch with dad, I wondered why they were so damn happy. Turns out they had completed a pretty ridiculous comeback.
There was a run to the Finals in 1997, during which I excitedly pointed out to all of my friends on a school field trip to Center City the big Flyers jersey on Billy Penn's statue. My dad had told me all about it.
There was sitting on the floor with dad watching Game 7 against the Devils in 2000, then crying after Eric Lindros got destroyed by Scott Stevens. And then more when they lost the game.
We were there when the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies won the ECHL's Kelly Cup in 2003. We watched every game that season, drove to road games, the whole nine yards. I probably learned more about hockey that year than any other, all thanks to the countless questions about that interesting power play formation or that weird way one guy wore his socks. Dad had answers for all of them.
We were there two years later when Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and the Philadelphia Phantoms came back to beat Marc-Andre Fleury and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 6 of the AHL's East Division Semifinals. They erased a 4-1 third period deficit, scoring six goals in the third to win 7-4. They eliminated the Pens that night, and a few weeks later, we were there when they won their second Calder Cup.
Dad taught me basically everything I know about hockey. He's the reason I love the Flyers, the reason I love the game, and he's the reason I'm able to write this right now. Love you, dad. Happy Father's Day.