Bernie Parent Ready For The Spotlight Again

31 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — Saturday’s alumni game between the Flyers and the Rangers will be more about having fun than anything else. Bernie Parent gets that message, perhaps better than anyone else on the Philadelphia roster.

“Life is good,” he said to a teammate in the locker room following Friday’s practice. “Freakin’ life is good.”

No. 1 will get the start in the alumni game. He’s gone from a 30-year rest to starting a game against the New York Rangers in front of more than 40,000 fans. But don’t worry.

“[I’m] good,” said Parent. “I’m in my prime, man.”

There was just one little problem on Friday for the team’s only practice. Things started looking a little fuzzy for Parent, winner of 232 games as a Flyer.

“I said ‘the puck looks fuzzy a little bit today. What’s going on?’ I forgot to put my contact in,” said the 66-year-old. “But that’s alright. I’ll have it in for tomorrow.”

The practice was the third time on the rink this week for Parent. Before that, he hadn’t played since 1979 when he hung up his pads and classic mask, which he dusted off and played with this week. But even more special than the equipment he wore when his play encouraged bumper stickers reading ‘Only the Lord saves more than Bernie,’ is seeing his old friends.

“The best part is when the boys came in this morning — I was in a little bit early — and you get to shake hands,” said Parent. “You look at them in the eyes. And…there’s no one in the world that can buy that feeling. It’s cool.

“We have different generations here. It’s like we’re one big family. It’s not ‘like,’ we are one big family. Some brothers are a little bit younger than others, but we’re all in the same family. That’s why it’s such a great feeling to be in this dressing room.”

It will be like old times to play in front of him for some of the Flyers’ roster. His teammates admit that he might not resemble the Bernie of old. At least not yet.

“Still a little bit rusty,” said Bob Kelly, “but I think with the good defense that he usually has in front of him he’ll be fine.”

Eric Desjardins looks like he still has some juice left in him. He said that he still plays three times a week because he still feels good and enjoys staying in shape that way.

“I dunno, we have eight D man so it shouldn’t be too bad,” said the former Flyers captain. “I don’t know if it’s 20 minutes, hopefully just 10 minutes a period. Running time? I think it’s gonna be fun.”

Parent won’t play the whole game. Neil Little and Mark LaForest will also see time. In his limited action, Parent’s goal is clear.

“It’s just to go out there and put the pads on, make a couple saves in front of a crowd that supported us for years and years and years,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. Let the rest take care of itself.

“Let’s face it. You go on the ice you’re like a performer on a stage. You have a good crowd, good reaction. It elevates you to a different level and you play better.”

He’s played in front of sold out Spectrum crowds before, but on Saturday at 3 p.m., Citizens Bank Park will be filled with more than 40,000 fans. Hopefully, that picture will come through crystal clear to the legendary Flyers goalie.

Another Skating Opportunity

The first set of public skates on the Winter Classic ice sold out. But there’s a new opportunity that benefits a good cause. There will be a public skate on Sunday, Jan. 8 at Citizens Bank Park where proceeds benefit “Peter’s Place,” a division ofThe Claddagh Fund, a the charitable foundation of the Dropkick Murphys, founded by Ken Casey in 2009.

Honoring the three attributes of the Claddagh Ring, Friendship, Love and Loyalty, the mission of the Claddagh Fund is to raise money for the most underfunded non-profit organizations that support vulnerable populations in our communities.

Tickets will be $75 and includes a reception at McFadden’s. The restaurant opens its doors with food and live music from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the ice opening at 3:45 p.m.

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