Peter Luukko, president of the Flyers’ parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, was greatly heartened by the response to the open practice at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday that was free to the public.
The attendance was 15,202, and the fans were passionate.
“It goes to show what great fans we have,” Luukko said. “We don’t take our fans for granted.”
Even during the 113-day lockout, Luukko said that he heard from countless fans.
“People kept contacting me,” he said.
The central message?
Luukko said the Flyers also had an open practice after the NHL lockout during the 1994-95 season, which like this one, was reduced to 48 games.
“We had the same reception back then,” he said. “The support we get is amazing.”
The Flyers players and coaching staff had similar admiration for the fans.
In fact when newly named captain Claude Giroux addressed the fans before the practice, he spoke from the heart.
“It’s a great honor to be the Flyers captain and good to see you guys,” Giroux said to the fans. “We missed you guys and thanks for sticking with us.”
Hockey fans are among the most dedicated around.
While nobody enjoyed the 113-day lockout, the fans appear ready to put it behind them and get behind their team.
So expect the Wells Fargo Center to explode during Saturday’s opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team despised as much as any by Flyers fans.
Yes, the fans will voice their displeasure if the Flyers don’t play well, but the enthusiasm that was in the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday shows that hockey couldn’t return soon enough in Philadelphia.