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U.S. Hockey Hall Of Fame Ceremony Has A Philly Flair

By Harry Thompson - USA Hockey Magazine, 11/30/16, 7:15AM MST

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Watch the ceremony live starting at 7PM ET on ushockeyhalloffame.com

Long before expansion welcomed the Philadelphia Flyers to the NHL, before the Broad Street Bullies won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles and before John LeClair was the triggerman on the explosive line known as the Legion of Doom, another NHL team briefly called the City of Brotherly Love home.

The Philadelphia Quakers lasted exactly one season (1930-31) before quietly slipping away into NHL anonymity. Their only claim to fame was to set the single-season futility mark by compiling a 4–36–4 record, which still stands as the fewest games ever won by an NHL club in a season.

Since the Quakers’ quick run in the NHL, hockey has come a long way in Philadelphia. This is thanks in large part to the commitment of one man, Ed Snider, who brought hockey to his hometown and remained committed to making the sport as much a part of the community as cheesesteaks and Tasty Cakes.

And as the Flyers embark on their 50th NHL season, USA Hockey is happy to join in the celebration by bringing a pair of marquee events to town.

It started with the All-American Prospects Game in September and will be capped off by the annual U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Wednesday. The annual American hockey events will feature the usual nostalgia along with some Philly flavor, something Snider would’ve loved.

“We’re excited to bring the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration to Philadelphia,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. “It’s one of our nation’s very top hockey cities, thanks in large part to the decades long efforts of the late Ed Snider, and fans in the area will enjoy being part of enshrining the Class of 2016."

This year's Class includes legendary high school coach Bill Belisle, who led Mount Saint Charles prep school from Woonsocket, R.I., to 26 consecutive state titles, and 32 over the course of his 41 years behind the bench. He is also credited with helping to develop a number of NHL stars, including Mathieu Schneider, Keith Carney, Brian Lawton and Bryan Berard. Lawton and Berard were both No. 1 overall picks in their respective NHL Entry Drafts.

Belisle is joined by Craig Janney, who averaged nearly a point per game over the course of his 12-year NHL career. He also represented the United States on six occasions, including the 1988 Olympic Winter Games and the 1991 Canada Cup.

And capping off the class is U.S. squad that won the 1996 World Cup of Hockey Team. That team features 16 players who have been enshrined in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, including LeClair, who played 10 seasons with the Flyers, and Mike Richter, who hails from nearby Abington, Pa.

The city holds a special significance for this U.S. squad that launched its run toward the World Cup title at the Wells Fargo Center (then called CoreStates Center), when it defeated Canada to open its pool play. The two teams met again in Philadelphia in the first game of a three-game finals, with Canada gaining the upper hand with an overtime victory.

“The biggest thing I remember from the games in Philadelphia was how loud the building was, especially when John LeClair scored with six seconds left to force OT in the first game of the finals," recalled Derian Hatcher, who spent the final three seasons of a 16-year NHL career in Flyers orange. "It was kind of like the [1980] Olympics again, with everyone in the place going nuts and chanting ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’ It was cool to be part of that experience.”

Also being honored will be Pat Kelly, co-founder of the ECHL who helped pioneer the growth of hockey in the South, and Mark Howe, who played 10 of his 16 NHL seasons with the Flyers. They are the recipients of the 2016 Lester Patrick Trophy for their support of hockey in the United States.

Along with his award, Howe also got to serve as a coach at the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game taking place in his backyard. He went up going against LeClair. These Philly mainstays coached the nation’s top draft-eligible players in the country, which included five players with ties to Philadelphia.

This was just another testament to how far hockey has come since the days of the Quakers.

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