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franShellyThe ugliest guy in the world....and Jody Shelley.

It was cold, but not freezing, and the sun was out in full force. At the entrance to Harlem sits a small sports complex. At the end, or beginning of Central Park depending on your perspective, lie two outdoor hockey rinks. Home to many a rec league, FGSB's old adult league, and development camps, was the scene for the Philadelphia Flyers hour long practice yesterday.
It was a simple practice, but in this unique environment, a lot of the barriers between fans and the team were broken. in case you didn't know, Ryan and I both live in Brooklyn. we're Philly ex-pats blogging in enemy territory. We don't get to do the whole "blogger press access" at home games thing. See that? I don't even know what the correct term for it is. We're fans that like to write about the team while being dangerously good looking in the process. So being able to stand literally right next to Paul Holmgren during the entire one hour practice was pretty neat. It was really funny to hear Homer critiquing some players during an obviously relaxed practice, but hey, that's what GMs do. Holmgren was answering questions from fans in a very casual way. Sure there were cameras around from CSN Philly and New York's CBS 2 , but Homer's tone was more of a buddy in a bar talking hockey, not the politically correct tone we generally hear on television or the radio.
As the Flyers practice concluded with a shoot out between Team Orange and Team White, the small crowd really got into it. The crowd, consisting of media, a handful of Flyers fans and two all-girls teams from a local middle school and their parents, were cheering loudly for every goal and the players were reacting to it. It was great to be a part of all the laughs when the Flyers scored and watch them skate over to to the fans after every attempt. The kids, not being familiar with the Flyers club, didn't slow them down too much after practice. Even the 40 little dudes in full gear who were grabbing some autographs and asking for the Flyers sticks. It was hilarious to watch Daniel Carcillo give away his stick to a 14 year old girl like he was King Arthur handing over Excalibur. Every Flyer made himself available for autographs and pictures, adding to this unique experience. Below are some videos and shots from the practice. It was a short but sweet experience, and it seemed like the team enjoyed it as much as the fans. Hopefully this trip to Central Park becomes a yearly event.

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bartulis

Also, there is a game tonight.  Your Philadelphia Flyers vs. the New York Rangers.  With Philly claiming Central Park as their own yesterday without a sign of Derek Boogaard, it's safe to say that the Rangers are toast.  It's always a slobberknocker when these two rivals square off, this time around expect a fast paced, end-to-end heavyweight fight.  All this hype about how well the Rangers play feels overblown, and against the Orange and Black, it will be proved.  Let's Go Flyers.