Read about how each person contributed to the launch of the Flyers Cup Tournament and it’s first decade of existence. How the tournament took shape and the individuals involved sky rocketed interest in local youth, high school, and Philadelphia Flyers hockey in southeastern Pennsylvania. Ed Sniders dream went from his mind on to the ice with a hand-picked group of organization executives and officials throughout Delaware Valley youth and high school ice hockey.
Ed Snider is often credited with bringing hockey to Philadelphia, along with a few others, so by the time 1976 had rolled around, the Flyers owner was being besieged with requests from youth hockey teams for money and support from the Flyers. After granting the Little Flyers and Junior Flyers the rights to use the Flyers name and logo in perpetuity royalty free on a handshake basis along the way, he also invested in Radnor Rink along with Lou Scheinfeld, Aaron Siegel, and then rink General Manager Ross Turnbull.
In the early part of the summer of 1976, Snider turned to Siegel, who had taken the day-to-day role in running Radnor Rink and REAL Sporting Goods (R for Ross, E for Ed, A for Aaron, and L for Lou) to come up with a solution to support the entire Delaware Valley youth hockey community in a way to build the long term fan base for the Philadelphia Flyers while also giving back to the community in an even-handed way all under the auspices of the Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association and AHAUS, now USA Hockey so the on-ice rules were uniform, and the Flyers would be arms-length from the on-ice aspects of the game while supporting the growth of the sport.
Enter the Three Wise Men-Aaron Siegel, Ken Gesner, and Jim Shute
Aaron Siegel A pharmacist by profession, Siegel grew up with Lou Schinefeld in the Feltonville section of Philadelphia. By the time he was in his 40s, the father of two had ditched filling prescriptions to being a partner in an ice rink with Schinefeld and Snider that was too small to be the professional size and with a sandy base to run The Spectrum as its President eventually.
But without his precise insight as to what made for better ice and with his son and daughter both playing youth hockey, there was a good chance that nothing that is youth hockey in the Delaware Valley today would have happened. It was Siegel who Ed Snider turned to devise a plan to support the community in an apolitical manner that would enable The Flyers to do something far better and far different than any professional sports team had ever done. In essence, creating the first true fan development organization ever supported by a professional sports organization.
Ken Gesner A graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and an insurance brokerage owner, Gesner was as active in the Delaware Valley’s hockey scene as anyone could be who lived in Northern New Jersey by the mid-seventies. He and Siegel were joined at the hip when it came to a vision of what would make hockey better for all the players on the ice, not only the elite ones. As Vice President of the Atlantic District and eventually president and director, he also proposed creating a service bureau operation to be at the forefront of all amateur hockey that the Flyers could support. That idea became Hockey Central. And to prove it could work, like Siegel, who provided severely discounted office space, and more, Ken Gesner wrote the first check to get things going while we waited for the Flyers money to arrive in August of 1976.
If Siegel was one of my “other dads” in business along with Sy Roseman, so too was Ken Gesner, for he, as chairman of the board of Hockey Central, was who kept us apolitical while also making sure we (I) were intimately involved in all facets of AHAUS and every league in the Atlantic District and who also mentored me in the ways and methods of getting things done with the leagues and teams, as Hockey Central’s Mr. Outside, while Siegel as Mr. Inside, did the same to guide me through the inner workings of The Flyers organization and what eventually became Spectacor.
Jim Shute With Siegel as Mr. Inside and Gesner as Mr. Outside, the Mr. In-Between was clearly Jim Shute. A career executive with Republic Steel, and a silver tongue who could sell and manage, Shute was a transplant from Chicago hockey, who quickly, upon arriving on the Main Line, was involved with The Little Flyers as his son Jimmy, was a good enough player to be playing at that level, while Jim, who coached, was behind the bench. He also was the coach and director for Conestoga of the Inter-County League and, like Gesner and Siegel, knew there was a better way to do things. Starting with better coaching.
It was Shute who helped get the ICSHL to see the light and join AHAUS, but also who drove the idea of a better coaching achievement program to be started, first in the Atlantic District with Walter Yaciuk (another Hockey Central Board Member and AHAUS’ then Coach in Chief) when we held the Flyers Youth Hockey Coaching Clinic in the winter of 1977 with Fred Shero, Barry Ashbee, Mike Nykoluk and Bob Fink of the University of Pennsylvania hockey team who coached Jay Snider there (are the dots starting to connect???). With Shute, who became the Atlantic District’s Coaching Program Director, Hockey Central staged our first event with The Flyers’ name on it, demonstrating that the Flyers put money behind youth hockey and their people behind it too.
I’d also be remiss not to mention Jim’s wife, Mary, who was Hockey Central’s first administrative staff member. Mary, a mom of three, came out of retirement to be our day-to-day secretary, bookkeeper, and typist. A super organized person, and mother to someone my own age, she was the anchor those first few years at keeping the office running. Sy was really only working part-time, and I was still only a senior in high school when Hockey Central started, so someone had to be there at 9 AM every day, and that person was Mary.
While I would leave the office to go to meetings and high school games at night to be visible to the community, while Sy was working the phones all day to get reporters interested, it was Mary who typed, totaled, and kept things organized. Her tireless work with me on the College Hockey Guide in 1977 and 1978 was invaluable to the scholastic hockey and junior hockey community, and if anything, that was something every parent should thank her for, whoever sent their son or daughter to college to play hockey.
Sy Roseman Mentor. Surrogate father, big brother, teacher, guide. Sy had become all that to me when Ed Tepper hired me to work for the Philadelphia Wings in 1974. The original Public Relations Director at The Spectrum, Sy was also the most connected guy in town when it came to the sports media and the media in general. When discussing who should help get Hockey Central off the ground, Lou Scheinfeld suggested Sy. Aaron remembered him from the days of the Wings buying equipment from the Wings and said, “And that college kid who works with him too.” That “kid” was me. Only I had yet to go to college. I was still in high school, with senior year staring me in the face. I had just gotten my driver’s license less than a year earlier and was driving my dad’s new 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme to and from high school.
Sy and I went to a meeting at The Wissahickon Skating Club in August of 1976, just around my 17th birthday. There we met Shute and Gesner and got reacquainted with Aaron. Others in the room included Walter Muehlbrunner, who was the rink director and figure skating legend, Iris Jewel (Wintersport,) Bob Gastwirth (Blue Line and the Junior Firebirds), Don Anderson, Bill Brosious (Blue Line and Lower Merion High School) and Dick Gutwillig, sports editor for the Bergen Record in North Jersey. Aaron presented what the Flyers were going to start, introduced Sy as our Executive Director, and me as the Communications Officer, and we got a consensus that what Ed Snider envisioned was worth starting.
Gesner offered to write the check so we could start right away, Aaron committed office space across the parking lot from the Radnor Rink, and Sy and I went to work the next week. It was Sy who coined the mission statement for Hockey Central, which read “to promote, stimulate and develop interest in the sport of youth hockey in the Delaware Valley.” We devised our plan from there with Aaron, Ken, and Jim’s input.
The first step was to be a service bureau to the teams, league, and media. That meant creating an engine for statistics and media dissemination. While working the phones to get media awareness, Sy tasked me with the essentials to build the office.
I found some used office desks and tables for sale for $300 over in Wayne, down the road from our Radnor offices. I called Xerox, and we leased a copier from a guy named Wilson Bohanek, who later laughed when he learned a 16-year-old had negotiated free supplies and paper from him for a lease on an oversized copying machine that we used to run off the stats and news releases on, and then a telecopier. We leased typewriters first from Modern Office and then got a better deal from Larry Yasner, who was representing all kinds of office products back then.
Next came media outreach. Sy had realized that the media needed to be called with the scores of the high school games every night after talking with sports editors from the various newspapers, large and small. So, he had me call Bell of Pennsylvania to install an answering machine in my house with remote access. It was the size of a toaster oven and took up about a quarter of my desk in my bedroom. It became more than the place scores were left; it became the nerve center of all things youth hockey. Sy’s idea was pure genius. This allowed me to be at games, call in from rink offices, and still get the scores to the morning papers all before midnight. Then I’d go home and call the afternoon papers and radio stations with the scores.
During the day, Sy would write the news releases, eventually teaching me how to structure them and mentoring me in talking with the press. Often those lessons were over a sandwich from the cheese shop around the corner or over at the Howard Johnson on Lancaster Avenue next to the rink parking lot. With Ken Gesner mentoring me on the rules of hockey off the ice, Sy was teaching me the rules of media engagement. That’s when fear hit us both. Bill Ordine was the editor of the West Chester Daily Local and also a contributor to Philadelphia Magazine and had called Sy wanting to write a story about the Flyers’ involvement in youth hockey. Always wary, careful, and crafty, Sy first was concerned about the story being a “hatchet job” on Ed Snider as the magazine was one never to pull punches.
So we walked across the parking lot to talk with Aaron and came up with the narrative of what the Flyers were doing, why Ed Snider was doing this, and why it was important to the community. The interview came off without a hitch, and the story helped bring youth hockey awareness to a broader audience.
Some years later, Ordine would follow Don McKee’s lead and name Archbishop Carroll’s Scott Chamness as Philadelphia Magazine’s High School Athlete of the Year, but I’m getting ahead of myself. But the point here was that without Sy’s media relations touch, the foundation of getting news coverage for both high school hockey and youth hockey would never have happened. And there wouldn’t have been the momentum generated in the media to stage a Flyers Cup.
Right after that call, Sy and I were doing what we normally would do. We were reading the newspapers. Some thought we weren’t working, but what we were doing was figuring out how to get in the papers. Already we were getting the scores and some highlights in the weeklies. In the suburbs, the daily papers and weeklies were using our news releases and statistics. But we needed to break the barrier and get editorial coverage in one of the daily newspapers which mattered. That meant either the Bulletin, the Daily News, or the Inquirer. Sy figured the Inquirer was our best shot for a few reasons. It had the largest circulation. It had the largest sports writer staff. He was friends with a few of the sports desk editors, and more importantly, Don McKee was there and had just moved over from the Camden Courier Post, where he had covered The Flyers, to become the Inquirer’s High School sports editor.
No good narrative is complete without the backstory and how things intertwine. At the Inquirer was Chuck Newman, who was the Flyers’ beat reporter in the 70s. As with Siegel and Scheinfeld, Sy and Chuck had also grown up together in Feltonville, they all sort of knew each other, and there was no way McKee was going to get the Flyers beat away from Newman, but Don loved hockey, and just as life is serendipitous, he had covered a few Wings games when Rob Tannenbaum couldn’t for the Courier Post. McKee, who was in his mid-twenties then, and I had become acquainted with one another as Don, who, like so many reporters who covered the Wings, often asked me for something about the team, our players, or in his case, to explain the sport to him.
Newman clued Sy into McKee’s move across the river, so Sy suggested I call Don and start talking hockey with him—specifically high school hockey. Back then, I would periodically drop by the Inquirer and drop off the news releases on Fridays, allowing Don and me time to catch up.
Soon we were going across the street for dinner and a beer at The Press Bar. Thankfully, no one carded anyone, as I was only 17 years old. That turned into the occasional lunch or dinner over Chinese food at Ho Sai Gai in Chinatown and, eventually, a few years later, into late-night drinks to talk hockey at Doc Watson’s Pub around the time Al Morganti replaced Chuck Newman on the Flyers beat.
One day in 1976, while we were reading the newspapers, Sy spotted the Inquirer’s Athlete of the Week, authored by none other than Don McKee. That’s when we decided it was time to break the big city newspaper barrier and get high school hockey into the press. Earlier that week, Germantown Academy’s Chris “Gump” Whiteside had scored a hat trick in an early season Suburban High School Hockey League game.
Now there were a few reasons why this was important. First, the Suburban League had already been members of AHAUS, while the ICSHL had wavered until the start of the season. Second, Germantown Academy was a member of the Inter-Ac, and almost all of the Inter-Ac schools, like Chestnut Hill Academy, Episcopal, Penn Charter, Malvern, and Haverford School, had a hockey team playing in the different leagues, with some support from the school compared to the other area high schools where hockey was considered a club sport. But lastly, Gump’s dad Bill was also on Hockey Central’s board of directors, and Bill, along with Flyers attorney Rob Rutenberg, was our quasi-legal counsel if we ever needed it. That meant getting Gump to talk to a reporter would be much easier than navigating through the leagues and team leaders we were just starting to know.
It was pure Sy Roseman PR genius. I called Bill and explained what and why we wanted to do what we planned. He was thrilled, of course, and then I called Don and pitched the idea. Because GA was in the Inter-Ac, it was seen more as a real high school sport, and McKee would have an easier time justifying the choice to the editorial staff than it being someone from where the team was considered playing a “club sport.” It worked, and that Thursday in the Philadelphia Inquirer, photo and all, was Gump Whiteside, The Inquirer’s first ever high school hockey-playing Athlete of The Week.
And then a bombshell hit. KYW-TV had run a news story on hockey violence and why it was dangerous to play. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Sure, The Flyers were the Broad Street Bullies, and yes, hockey had fights and body checking, but it wasn’t a violent sport for kids, and injuries per capita to youth players were far less than youth football.
So Sy, always one to turn bad news into good, conceived the idea of an editorial reply, as tv stations had to provide that access to the public as part of their FCC license. We saw that as a way to get onto the electronic media’s radar and to be a viable source for their news departments.
I immediately called Ken Gesner, as he was in insurance and handled the policies for many youth hockey teams. Together Ken, Sy, and I came up with the angle. Statistics. Ken had at his disposal the accident insurance data for not only amateur hockey but also for other sports, and low and behold, hockey was far safer than football.
As only he could do, we had three minutes to fill with content, Sy crafted a pitch note to the KYW editorial team first and then the script. It was accepted, and then we had to decide who would go on the air.
It wasn’t going to be Sy. Or me. Or Aaron, as we were all too close to The Flyers organization, and it would be seen as self-serving. We thought about local hockey leaders, but Jim Shute wasn’t available to do it as he worked for Republic Steel, and back then, who could speak to the media was always a touchy subject. We thought about others but came to the conclusion that Ken Gesner, with his insurance background and role in the district, with local youth and junior leagues as Commissioner, and most of all, as Chairman of Hockey Central, fit the bill best.
Ken delivered the script perfectly, and another barrier had been broken with it. youth hockey, via Hockey Central, was on television.
Just after the 1977-78 hockey season, Sy announced that he was heading to Atlantic City to lead Resorts International’s Public Relations. Our relationship, though, didn’t end, and for many years, until his early passing, it was like having another dad. Sy and I would talk, and he would give me guidance and keep mentoring me, but most of all, he was proud of my advancements, not only with Hockey Central and the Flyers like a dad would be, but in my career after that.
While Sy Roseman didn’t have a hand in The Flyers Cup, I can safely say that without his wisdom, vision, insight, and teachings, it likely never would have come to be. For in those first two years of Hockey Central, from 1976-1978, without Sy Roseman’s insight, trust, and belief in me, and more importantly, his rapport with the local media, none of what was started then and continues to this day would have happened.
Andy Abramson I was employee 1a along with Sy, starting when I was 17, and two years later when i was 19 I was named Executive Director of Hockey Central, and before I was 21, had launched a series of properties for The Flyers to benefit youth hockey, with The Flyers Cup and the Bobby Clarke Award for its MVP to be perhaps the most lasting tradition that the current Flyers organization still keeps active along with Mites on Ice, another program I started. Those two sports properties, and the creation of The Pennsylvania Cup, along with Pittsburgh’s Frank Black and our work together to put hockey into The Keystone Games, are all some of my personal living legacies that exist to this day.
It would be easy to be proud of just the Flyers Cup, but it was one more rung on the ladder of our mission that was accomplished. At times getting the Flyers Cup off the ground and even keeping it happening was more like Mission: Impossible, as there were barriers to be broken. Convincing the leagues, getting the sponsorship, and moving it from the Penn Class of ‘23 to the Skatium, none of it was as easy as it looks.
It was also never as simple as “we’re doing this,” and everyone just fell in line. There were hours of discussions, negotiations, checklists, and do’s and don’ts. I wish we had computers back then, but the personal computer was only a dream, and my notebooks from that era are long gone, but I can honestly say that every person on this list who is mentioned played a part in why the Flyers Cup was able to be created, and why, without their efforts, at some point in time, be it large or small, never would have had the championship come to be.
I may be considered the “Father of the Flyers Cup,” but all of these people, and many more, are part of the family that made it all possible.
Don Anderson From the earliest days of Hockey Central, Don was the counterweight to Jim Shute, Ken Gesner, and Aaron Siegel. He was the President of the ICSHL and led Conestoga High School Hockey. He was a hockey parent and, like Ken Gesner, a heavyweight in the insurance industry, and actually, at one point, had hired Ken, who was fresh out of Wharton. While we all were aligned with AHAUS, Anderson was slow to embrace that, not for fear of giving up control but more because he saw the PIAA, Pennsylvania’s interscholastic sports governing body, as the better option.
There were only three problems with that. First, the PIAA could care less about ice hockey back then, two, most of the power base in the PIAA was around sports like football and track and field and three, the leadership of the PIAA was mostly out west. Lastly, in the Philadelphia area, when it came to high school sports between the Public League which was made up of the City of Philadelphia’s public high schools, the Catholic League, which had the Catholic High schools inside and outside of the city and were under the authority of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, only the suburban high schools were members of it. This meant the way the three high school hockey leagues and rinks were set up, that PIAA-like play would have been a bit more challenging than easy.
After two months of haggling, Ken Gesner and I finally got Don to agree that having the ICSHL in AHAUS as members was good for the teams. Don became one of our biggest advocates, espousing why what The Flyers were doing was good for the community, not only the high school community but all of youth hockey. He was one of the first to push for cross-league suspension enforcement, which could be enforced with Hockey Central now keeping track of the penalties. This meant a player suspended for fighting or gross misconduct or who was sitting out a multi-day suspension would be suspended from all AHAUS participation. That meant for some, a fight on Thursday meant no hockey on Saturday, something that took time to enact but which eventually came to be.
Without Don Anderson being Hockey Central’s board member who played contrarian but who also stepped up when needed, the high school community would not have been as knitted together as it needed to be, and there would never have been a Flyers Cup.
Marshall Moglovkin the name Marshall Moglovkin may not be well known by many people in high school hockey today, but he was one of the founders of the ICSHL before many, even though high school hockey could be something. A native of Michigan, he was also the GM of the Radnor Rink when Hockey Central was formed. He was also a force behind Springfield High School’s hockey program and, for a long while, the Commissioner of the ICSHL. If Don Anderson was the contrarian in 1976, Moglovkin was our conscience inside the league. When Don and I disagreed, I walked across the Radnor Rink parking lot, and Marshall provided insight. When it came to getting teams and leagues to understand the need for cross-league suspensions, no one was a bigger advocate than Moglovkin and, in turn, the first to enforce it. Marshall’s on this list because there would never have been a Flyers Cup without his efforts to start and keep high school hockey going.
Paul Saylor Paul was GM of the Grundy Rink in Bristol, Commissioner of the Lower Bucks County Scholastic Hockey League, Vice President of NIHOA, the group that officiated Princeton and Penn NCAA and ECHA college ice hockey games, as well as the game at Lawrenceville, Peddie, Stuart, and Hill prep schools.
And despite the sometimes division between AHAUS and NIHOA, Saylor was an unabashed supporter of everything we did at Hockey Central. Saylor was one of the first to say, “yes” to The Flyers Cup. Yes to clinics at rinks, and yes to more than that. When he became a sales rep for KOHO, JOFA, and Titan, it was he, along with Bob Gastwirth, who convinced me to go to the NSGA show in Atlanta and the Hockey Equipment Manufacturers shows in Montreal to chase the brands for sponsorship. Years later, those relationships led to additional funding for The Flyers Cup and other programs we started under the Flyers Office of Amateur Affairs.
Paul also was a crucial part of The Flyers Cup over the years. He officiated some games. Was the head of the discipline committee, was active in the voting of the All Flyers Cup team and MVP award selection process, and most importantly, was who, on the first night of the first game of the first-ever Flyers Cup, stood with the Flyers Cheryl Levy and I selling tickets outside Penn’s Class of ‘23 Rink so we could get the crowd inside that was in both directions on Walnut Street.
Paul’s commitment from the start and for many years later is why there is a Flyers Cup today.
Andy Richards Andy was President of the Suburban High School Hockey League and, more importantly, one of the first allies Hockey Central had in the high school ranks. He was also the first league president to say he would be in.
It would never have happened without Andy’s commitment, dedication, and open-mindedness to what the Flyers Cup would become. He also was a big supporter of the concept of inter-league cooperation from the start, recognizing that there was more to the growth of the sport than just at the high school level.
As a hockey parent of two boys in the Face Off Circle program and then with the Little Flyers, Andy was a heart and soul hockey volunteer who asked for nothing more than what was best for the entire community.
Mary Cifone Hockey moms often brought milk, cookies, and juices to the rink. They organized carpools, but the number of hockey moms who took on leadership roles in youth and high school hockey was few and far between. I can count on one hand those who mattered and had a helping hand in making The Flyers Cup possible, and the first would be Mary Cifone.
While there were others, like Joan Wertz, who would manage the Class of 23 Rink after The Flyers took it over, and Joan Schofield, who worked for me and often thought of me as her other adopted son, and who would join Hockey Central when Mary Shute retired, and we had moved to the Penn rink, none were like Mary Cifone.
As the ICSHL’s treasurer, she ensured the league was on solid footing. In later years, she co-founded the EHSHL with Jack Hunt and a few others. And every so many years she would be the organizer of an exchange trip to Germany was a highlight of many families’ hockey life.
Mary was tough. She was strict. But she also cared about the sport. Once she got behind something, she was unstoppable, and once she got behind the idea of The Flyers Cup, she was someone we could count on.
Jack Hunt From the earliest days of Hockey Central and for years after it got rolling, Jack Hunt was one of the most vocal supporters of what we were doing. As a parent of a very talented son, Jay, who played with the Little Flyers, like Bill Brosious Hunt, had roots in hockey on the Main Line. And then one day, after replacing Don Anderson as President of the ICSHL, we were discussing the prospect of The Flyers Cup when he started to toss out objections. Eventually, we overcame them, but it took a few months to get Jack on board. But his support, like that of Anderson and Mary Cifone, had to be earned. With Hunt’s blessings to have the Inter-County League be a part of the 1980 Flyers Cup I put the wheels in motion as we had a championship to organize.
Don McKee there was a reason Don McKee was nominated for and received the Ed Snider Award in 2022. Without Don and his nose for news, there wouldn’t have been the level of media coverage of both high school and youth hockey in the Delaware Valley, and as a result of Don’s coverage made student-athletes like Gump Whiteside and Scott Chamness true barrier breakers for high school hockey in so many intangible ways.
And the editor who drove through that media barrier it was Don McKee. For up until Don provided Sy and me the opportunity to put high school hockey scores and highlights into the Inquirer, which in turn forced the Bulletin and Daily News to quickly follow suit, high school hockey had never been consistently in the three major metropolitan daily newspapers in the Philadelphia area.
When Don suggested that Scott Chamness had a shot at being Athlete of the Year in the Inquirer if he would play a third sport, I immediately had lunch with Scott’s dad, Bob at Howard Johnsons on Lancaster Avenue next to the rink, explaining the possibility, and that of course, Scott would have to be more than just a player, but as a three-sport athlete, in the Catholic League, and if he made All Area in all three sports, he would be right up there with Steve Bono, who McKee thought was the overall favorite going into his senior year like Scott.
It was Don who first broke the story about The Flyers Cup. It was Don who launched the Hockey Top Ten Poll. It was Don who had the courage to give high school hockey its rightful place with the All Area High School Hockey Team. Weekly would discuss the wins and losses, and the players who were standouts, often over a greasy burger or spicy Chinese food, or sometimes a Koch’s Deli sandwich. During those talks, Don was always looking for another player to write about, another game to cover, and another feature to write about.
His contributions were never-ending, including writing for The Flyers Cup program book, attending our press conferences, and overall being the great editor, writer, and reporter he was.
When Don was named a recipient of the Ed Snider Award in 2022, he mentioned he was surprised anyone remembered what he did, let alone being recognized for it. But from 1976 forward, Don’s never-ending commitment to high school hockey and fair-minded acceptance of what The Flyers were doing to promote it, never wavered.
Scott Chamness Perhaps the toughest person to write about, but the easiest to credit for there being a Flyers Cup is Scott Chamness. Not because he isn’t more than deserving, but because there never would have been a Flyers Cup if Scott didn’t draw all the media’s attention. Newspapers. TV news and radio. But because his career and life were both cut short. Sy had taught me when we were with the Wings that you needed to focus on personalities on sports teams. We did that with Wings Captain Carm Collins, big John Grant, goaltender Wayne Platt, and Larry Lloyd. Skillful on the box and able to talk to the media off it.
When it came time to find our “poster child,” we didn’t need to look further than Archbishop Carroll, that was up the road from our offices. The team was on its way to being a powerhouse, and players like Greg Arnold and Scott Chamness were right up there as 9th-grade freshmen sensations, racking up goals and assists like no one else in the ICSHL. If the gangly centerman Greg Arnold was the articulate and boyish charmer with the quick eye and deft touch on the ice at center, Scott Chamness was the charismatic goal scorer who could out-muscle the opposition, blasting a shot from the circles or flick the puck past a goalie from just about anywhere on the ice. Together they were like Mutt and Jeff, Abbott and Costello, or Laurel and Hardy on ice. They complimented each other artfully, playing together like Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. Arnold could find Scott anywhere on the ice, and like a vulture, Chamness would swoop in, blowing shot after shot past disillusioned goalies who would grow frustrated as “The Shot” would register one hat trick or more goals in yet another game.
I remember one night at a game at the old Upper Merion YMCA ice rink where Scott complained to me about Eric Matzinger of William Tennant high school being named athlete of the week in the Inquirer when Scott had just scored ten goals against either Unionville or Methacton or Upper Merion. I don’t remember who The team was at this point, but I do remember telling Scott that I could’ve scored on that goalie, so his scoring ten goals was meaningless.
He asked what it would take to be named athlete of the week, for it was an honor that he had not yet received. I said go out and get 13 goals next game, and I’ll push for it, and SCOTT did it, and of course, I convinced Don McKee to name Scott athlete of the week, and he did.
When Don McKee nicknamed Scott “The Shot,” it was over a burger and beer we were having at the Press Bar across from the Philadelphia Inquirer building on Callohill Street. The nickname stuck, and Don put it in an Inquirer article a few days later.
Don always felt Scott was more than just a phenomenal hockey player. He felt Scott was a phenomenal athlete overall and had heard about Scott’s accomplishments as a baseball player and also a football standout.
Following Scott’s year of playing the second sport for Carroll., Don said to me, Scott would have an opportunity to be the athlete of the year if he also played the third sport-so I spoke to Scott’s dad about it. At this point, I forget the order if it was baseball, then football, or the other way around, but in each sport, Scott made all Catholic and All-Area in them in the Inquirer.
That senior year, in 1979-1980, Scott was named Athlete of the Year by the Inquirer and Philadelphia Magazine. We were all proud of it as it came on the heels of Scott being named Bobby Clarke MVP in the first-ever Flyers Cup.
Given all that took place leading up to the first-ever Flyers Cup Championship tournament, its very apropos to say that it was built on the broad shoulders of Scott, for without him being the great athlete that he was and more, the great person and his media-friendly personality, it never would have happened, for in the four years leading up to it, he was the high school star who shined the brightest.
Bruce Craig Right after the first Flyers Cup, Hockey Central Board Member Clarence “Binky” Wurts suggested over lunch at The Racquet Club that I should get to know Wissahickon hockey coach Bruce Craig. Bruce, who grew up near Montreal, had played hockey at the University of Pennsylvania and was their business controller. He was also perhaps the most accomplished area coach when it came to developing players and coaching with both strategy and tactical precision. But Bruce was more than that. He also was someone who could be counted on.
As he was about to take over as head coach for Germantown Academy, and as his office was close to the Penn Rink, Bruce quickly became someone who could be on the ice for our Flyers youth hockey programs. His well-schooled conversational skills about hockey and what it took to be a great coach quickly saw Bruce become an integral part of everything we did to promote youth hockey. He became part of the USA Hockey Coaching Achievement Program, joined me as a counselor at the very first USA Hockey Regional Midget Camp in Colorado Springs, and also became the face of all youth hockey coaches to the media when we needed one. If Chamness was the on-ice barrier breaker, Bruce was the one who gave high school and youth hockey programs that voice and face. As time went on, Bruce guided GA to back-to-back Flyers Cups, but he also did one more thing. He tutored and coached Mike Richter through bantams, midgets, juniors, and high school, giving Mike every opportunity to learn and perfect his craft.
While Bruce wasn’t part of the pre-Flyers Cup era, without him, the Flyers Cup would not have its place in the annuls of Flyers Youth Hockey history, for it was Bruce who would be the “coach” who could talk to the media about the Cup from a “coaches first” perspective, with the heart and soul of someone who had played the game.
The Unsung Heroes
Max Putter often there are people who are overlooked, taken for granted, or just not thought of. Don McKee had that type of reaction when he received The Ed Snider Award in its inaugural year in 2022. One of those is Max Putter. Love Max. Hate Max. Both were never mutually exclusive. But to know Max and understand his unwavering support of everything youth hockey would be like leaving out someone who made only unrecognized contributions. That stops here.
Max was a rink manager, a pro shop operator, a coach, a game official, team rep across no less than four ice rinks. Many a young player was fitted for their first skates by Max. Coached by Max or played in a game he officiated. Early games. Late games. Youth hockey. High School Hockey, even adult league hockey, all had Max’s fingerprints on them. But most of all, without Max’s tireless efforts across the many rinks and the players he helped, there would have been less on the ice than their work. Max’s efforts gave many players a start and helped others along the way to find their way to play in The Flyers Cup.
Larry Yasner known as the Yas, Larry was one of those behind-the-scenes people who made high school hockey happen. As the head of off-Ice officials for the ICSHL, he was instrumental in ensuring the league’s games were called in every night from the many rinks they played across the Delaware Valley.
As the announcer at games, he was as much a character off the ice as the players were on it. When it came time to need someone to head up that activity at The Flyers Cup, the always dapper-dressed, former stick boy for the Philadelphia Ramblers quickly said yes. But Yas did more than that. He also ensured we had others to help, managing the game’s goal judges, scorekeepers, and penalty box crews. He helped out with after-game activities for the media, game officials, and coaches and served as emcee for many events related to the Flyers Cup.
It’s easy to recognize the stars on the ice. But when it came to one of the best off the ice, Larry Yasner leads that list.
Gina O’Gara Last, but no means least, is Gina O’Gara. A single hockey mom whose son Brian grew up playing at Wintersport, Gina was someone who not everyone knew but who was a heart and soul supporter of The Flyers Cup. Like Larry Yasner Gina ran the clock, kept score, and announced games at Wintersport during SHSHL games. She came to meetings, volunteered, and helped out. When Larry Yasner couldn’t be the lead off-ice official at Flyers Cup games, he looked no further than to Gina for help. A female rink announcer was not even thought of when one thinks about barrier breakers in sports. But in the Flyers Cup history, Gina was the first, and her support as an announcer, scorekeeper, and volunteer, made them all easier to hold.
When we used to hold Flyers Cup meetings, press conferences, or gatherings, I made a point of singling out the people who had done things to really make a difference. The Flyers Cup is not the work of one person, it was the work of many. In thinking back on who helped, who did things well above and beyond, and who deserves highlighted recognition, I can safely say this list accurately represents those people. Others who did things would have to include Pete Huver, who sold Pepsi on the idea of sponsoring The Flyers Cup in 1979. Then there’s Pete Silverman, who was the Flyers TV producer who gave us time to be on the air, and of course, Flyers President Bob Butera who agreed with Aaron Siegel and me to hold the first tournament, and Bobby Clarke, who gave his name to the MVP Award.
TV folks like Mike Rubin, Mike Finnochioaro, Mike Emrick, Steve Coates, Bobby Talyor, and of course, the voice of the Flyers, Gene Hart. But it was also Flyers executives like Keith Allen and his wife Joyce, both hockey parents to Blake but also helpful to me at times, not at Flyers games, but at Radnor High School games. There was also help from Spectrum executives like Ed Rubenstein, Carl Hirsch, Rob Grossman, Rich Oriolo, Steve Flynn, Terry McKinney, Bill Whitmore, Joe Yank, Barry Letz, and Jim Riordan, who provided event-related guidance, There was Mark Piazza, Larry Rubin, and Carol Jarden, who were sounding boards on PR angles, and people like Donn Patton and Elenor Seeds who cleared the way for me to get things done.
There was Ivan Schlictman and Joe Watson, who sold ads and sponsorships for me. Then there were Jay and Lindy Snider, who also provided unwavering support for what we did to make The Flyers Cup happen. People few knew, like Cheryl Levy, Joe Kadlec, Linda Pinasci, Gina Pelle, Eileen Forcine, and countless others who all stepped up and helped as The Flyers Cup grew year after year. No thanks would be complete without recognizing the late Pat Shuck, Aaron’s executive assistant at The Spectrum, who always found time for me to get into talk with Aaron as his responsibilities grew not only in Philadelphia but as Spectacor grew and grew all over the world.
From outside of the Flyers organization, one can look no further as the Flyers Cup grew than WGBS’s Carol Healy, John Gardner, and Mike Rubin. Their unwavering support to put youth hockey and the Flyers Cup once they came on air was unduplicated. Last but not least would be Joe Moderski, who artfully orchestrated the move from the Class of ‘23 Rink to The Skatium, clearing the way and getting us the same almost no-cost ice rental we had at Penn’s rink.
These people all made things happen. Their work behind the scenes, and often out in front in various ways, made The Flyers Cup a lasting tradition. And to all of you, I say THANK YOU.