Welcome to “The Big Three-Oh!” I’m turning 30 at the end of July and to celebrate, I am counting down my best/favorite sports moments in my lifetime. If you missed the kickoff post, check it out for the background for the series. I missed writing the blogs for both #12 and #11. I did post the moments on Instagram as well as the athletes but I do want to catch on these.
#11 — Mike Richards’ “The Shift” & the 2010 Flyers Stanley Cup Run
I’ve referenced how much more me being in attendance for a moment boosts its spot on the list. Between the shootout win over the Rangers on the final day of the regular season, taking out the Kovalchuk-led Devils, the comeback from down 3-0 to the Bruins, and being in “The Center” for “The Shift,” the 2010 Flyers Eastern Conference Championship is a recipe for a high spot on the list.
The 2010 NHL season occurred during my freshman year at Lehigh. The Phillies were back-to-back NL Champs with a World Series title. The Eagles had just traded Donovan MacNabb. The Sixers were a few years from “processing.” The Flyers came into the season with hope having traded for Chris Pronger and having signed Ray Emery in the offseason but injuries plagued the team. After qualifying for the playoffs by winning their final regular-season game in a shootout, ending the Rangers’ playoff hopes, the Flyers drew the New Jersey Devils in the first round. The Devils had acquired Ilya Kovalchuk during the regular season and won the Atlantic Division. The Flyers took care of New Jersey and drew the #6 seed Boston Bruins for the second round because the 7th-seeded Flyers and 8th-Canadiens upset their opponents. The Bruins took a 3-0 series lead but the Flyers didn’t quit despite rotating goalies and even after trailing 3-0 in Game 7 in Boston, the Flyers roared back to complete the comeback. Montreal took out the Penguins so a 7 vs. 8 Eastern Conference Final was what 2010 brought us.
The Flyers had control throughout the series and by the time it returned to Philly, the Fly Guys were up 3-1. I was in attendance for Game 5 when “The Shift” happened. I had previously seen the Phillies close out the 2009 NLCS and was hoping I’d see a second conference-clinching win in only a few months. After Richards’ goal, the rest of the game seemed like a coronation for the Flyers and the Prince of Wales trophy would be coming to Philadelphia for the first time since 1997. The Blackhawks had won the Western Conference the night before so this would be an opportunity to have a series against my mom’s side of the family (recall the Cubs post). The Flyers won and the family showdown was on. I texted the opening salvo to my cousin Matt and he immediately retorted, “it’s over. Richards touched the trophy.”
My cousin would be right about the alleged curse the plagues captains after they touch their conference championship trophy but this run itself had such a huge impact on my life. For the first time since the 2005-06 season, I could watch the Flyers on TV since I was back in the Philadelphia market. I had gotten used to following via the internet and reading box scores but being able to see the Flyers play their regular-season games took following the team to another level. In a way, being removed from something as simple as a regional broadcast made me the crazed superfan I am today. Not that Greg and I weren’t chirping each other throughout high school, but a playoff series certainly took that to another level.
Today’s Instagram Athlete
I referenced it on the newest podcast, but Jimmy Rollins stays as the athlete for #11. Carson would take it otherwise but J-Roll is iconic. He declared the Phillies the team to beat in 2007 and then followed it up by winning a World Series in 2008–more on both later. He set the franchise’s longest hitting streak between 2005 and 2006 and finally became the team’s all-time leader in hits in 2014. Carson Wentz will get there but Jimmy Rollins will be waiting.Follow @geordo9