Spectrum memories

It was never flashy, never pretentious.

But, in its own way, the Spectrum was a jewel. Our jewel.

It was a no-frills, blue-collar arena and virtually every seat in the building was close to the action. Even those in the second level felt they could reach out and touch the ice.

Led by Mike Richards' two shorthanded goals, the Flyers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes today, 4-2, in the final NHL game ever played in the Spectrum.

Never mind that it was only a preseason game. The building was electric _ from just before the game, when a stirring ceremony was held to honor past Flyers captains, to the final minute, when a "Let's Go Flyers" chant was given for old times' sake.

It was the first time I had been in the building _ which will be demolished next fall _ in about 15 years. And lots of memories came rushing at me.

I can remember going to my first NHL game there in 1968 and watching the expansion Flyers score a stunning 2-2 tie against Rod Gilbert and the New York Rangers. (Any point an expansion team could get agaunst an Original Six member was considered a big deal.)

I can remember being there when the Flyers came back from splitting two games against mighty Montreal in the 1973 Stanley Cup semifinals.....and watching the amazed expressions on the Flyers' faces as they went through their pregame skate and looked up at the adoring fans as they gave them a 10-minute standing ovation. (The ovation was for the team's shockingly strong play in Montreal. The Canadiens won the series in five tough games, but you had the feeling the Flyers were going places.)

I can remember being there when Rick MacLeish tipped in Andre "Moose" Dupont's shot and Bernie-Bernie-Bernie Parent was perfect in the nets as the Flyers defeated the heavily favored Bruins, 1-0, to win the 1974 Stanley Cup.

 It was a victory that sent our then-sad-sack sports city toward a revival, one that would turn Philly into the City of Winners. And, so, yes, there was a lot of emotion from the 17,000-plus fans at today's game.

Feel free to post some of your favorite Spectrum memories, whether they're good (the win over the Rangers in the '74 semis) or bad (the long goal that Minnesota's Barry Gibbs scored _ Parent apparently lost it in the sun that was shining through the windows _ and knocked the Flyers out of the playoffs.)

As club chairman Ed Snider said, people shouldn't feel sad that the Spectrum is going to be demolished. The bricks and mortar don't mean much, Snider said. It's the memories that matter.

And there are hundreds of them.