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The Flyers Have Elvis

Wed Oct 05, 2005 8:04 pm

Finally, hockey is back tonight - and I'll be watching my Philadelphia Flyers take on the New York Rangers (boooooo).

This gave me a little smile:


Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock was watching a BBC broadcast in August and was mesmerized by what he saw.

"We live in our own little world here," Hitchcock said, referring to Flyerdom. "They had the sports highlights on the BBC... . For two days it was the signing and interviews with Peter [Forsberg] when he was here in Philadelphia. And it was [shown] ahead of the soccer coverage, which I found shocking."

Seeing the international coverage reinforced in Hitchcock's mind that Peter the Great was a very special athlete to have in Philadelphia.

"I came back here and told the coaches, 'This is a wake-up call for us,' " Hitchcock recalled. "He is the first international player with that kind of international notoriety that I have ever [coached]."

Tonight, the NHL officially relaunches after a season-long lockout. Forsberg will make his Flyers debut in a 7 o'clock game against the New York Rangers at the Wachovia Center, and there will be more than a dozen Swedish journalists at the game. Many of them attended yesterday's practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, Camden County.

"When we showed up today, I thought Elvis had entered the building," Hitchcock quipped.

The 32-year-old Forsberg is the closest thing to Elvis the Flyers have. It has been years since a Flyers season has been so eagerly anticipated. Given the remaking of the team with Forsberg as its centerpiece, that is perfectly understandable.

"I think the arena is going to be great," Forsberg said yesterday. "I am looking forward to it. I think it will be crazy."