Wednesday January 30, 1980
Original Source / Philadelphia Inquirer – Don McKee
The Flyers yesterday elevated scholastic hockey in the area to a position of public visibility equal to or greater than any other high school sport.
At a news conference at the Spectrum, Flyers executive vice president Bob Butera announced the creation of the Flyers Cup Tournament, a regional scholastic event that the team will underwrite and organize. Scholastic hockey in Pennsylvania is administered by the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States. It does not come under the administration of the Pennsylvania Inter-Scholastic Athletic Association, the Public League or the Catholic League, even though teams from all three of those organizations (plus the Inter-academic League) compete against each other.
The new tournament, which has the full backing of the three organized scholastic hockey leagues, replaces the unwieldly regional tournament of the last several years. The Flyers Cup will put four teams into Penn Rink, (Class of 23) for a compact tournament beginning March 18 and ending no later than March 26. The 23-team Inter-County league will send its champion and runner-up. The 13-team Suburban League and the eight-team Lower Bucks League will send their champions. A doubleheader March 18 at Penn Rink will eliminate two of the teams after one game. The remaining two will play a three-game series at the same location March 19, 24 and (if necessary) 26.
The Flyers also will award a $1,000 scholarship in the name of Bobby Clarke to the tournament’s most valuable player.
“We hope this can become an annual affair in the Philadelphia region,” Butera said, “and, in future years, expand across the state.”
Butera said the Flyers had been talking with the Pittsburgh Penguins about the Pens sponsoring the existing (and smaller) Western Pennsylvania tourney. The two NHL clubs then would jointly sponsor a state championship between the Eastern and Western champs. That, however, remains in the future. “We are entering a new era in the NHL of cooperation with youth hockey organizations,” Butera said, noting that the league had hired Bobby Orr specifically to work with youth hockey. We hope Philadelphia becomes the center of the U.S. effort in NHL youth work.”
“The impetus was supplied by Hockey Central, which we support, and Hockey Central’s relations with the three leagues. I want to develop closer relations with area youth hockey for two reasons. It’s our obligation to the community, and it’s one way of exposing our sport to the public. The more kids that play and get interested in watching the Flyers.”
“We’ve had a tremendous love affair with Philadelphia, and we’ve received tremendous support. Now we’re looking to the future – if we let our youth hockey suffer, we suffer.” The regional tournament was postponed, then suspended, last spring but ended up showing a small profit. However, it seems likely that adding the Flyers prestige will elevate the tournament to a new level. The Flyers Cup is automatically on the same level as the city football and basketball championship. Area scholastic hockey never had that before.
CREDIT: The Philadelphia Inquirer