It wasn’t your father’s Bernie Parent that walked out to center ice Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Long removed from the Jason-esc mask and Burt Reynolds ‘stache he’s now a spitting image of Shaun Connery as James Bond, the ah 2010 version.
Parent’s tuxedo fit the legendary goaltender almost as well as the No. 1 once fit between the crossbars at the Spectrum- perfectly.
In fact it looked like Oscar night in Philadelphia as the Flyers honored one of their greats.
Welcomed with a Connery like greeting the crowd rose to their feet to pay homage to a not-so Octopussy member of the feared “Broad Street Bullies” of the 1970′s.
“Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” erupted throughout the arena.
“The crowd was just incredible,” said the NHL Hall of Famer, “and I always said in Philly we have a great crowd. A good crowd will elevate you to a different level and make you perform better and that’s what we have in Philly– not we had, but that’s what we have– a great crowd.”
Even though Parent is (ear muffs Barney Stinson) Canadian, his love for Philadelphia is why the 65-year old is still a fan favorite.
The fact that he also won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 1974 and 1975- the only two Cups in Flyers history- might also have something to do with it.
“It brings back a lot of good memories” said Parent. “The people through the journey that we went through, they’ve been very supportive here. So it’s nice to get back with them again.”
The Flyer elected to the NHL Hall of Fame in 1984, the orgnaization acquired Parent in the 1967 Expansion Draft from Boston. Parent had two stints with the Flyers for nearly nine and a half of his 13 professional seasons.
Parent is one of four Flyers to have their number retired by the organization. Parent’s credentials speak for themselves.
Although oft-injured towards the end of his career including a career-ending eye injury by a stick to the right eye in 1979, in his golden years it was known that “Only the Lord saves more than Bernie Parent.”
The five time All-Star is the Flyers all-time leader in shutouts with 50, over double No. 2 on the list and he’s second in the organization behind Ron Hextall’s 240 wins with 232.
During his incredible campaigns in 1974 and 1975, Parent won the Vezina Trophy as the leagues best goaltender and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP both years.
After working as a goaltending coach for the Flyers after his playing career ended (developing guess who, Hextall) Parent is now an Ambassador for the team. You won’t find him slapping ribs behind the grill at Bull’s BBQ with Phillie Greg Luzinski but he still manages to make appearances at Flyers games.
“It’s been 30-some years since we played. It’s been a long time; three different generations came along and yet, you have little kids, 10-year-old kids [saying] ‘hey, can I have your autograph,’ chuckled Parent. “It’s gotta come from their parents… and the tradition goes on.”
That tradition fell short on Wednesday night as the Flyers lost to the San Jose Sharks 5-4 in a shootout but it was Bernie who stole the spotlight.
“It’s a little mixed feelings. It’s rewarding but at the same time, it’s almost like you’re moving on to the next phase.”
Philadelphia will never move on Bernie because for No.1 the next phase will always be, wait for it… legendary.