Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Imposing to the end, the Spectrum will soon be gone

It's one of the NHL's legendary arenas, not a bad achievement for a complex that is only forty two years old and not even used by the big club anymore.

But when you mention the name the Spectrum, you can be sure tough hockey players (and more so those that weren't particularly tough) everywhere either cringe in horror or have a twinkle in their eye for an ancient battle ground.

The Philadelphia Spectrum, the scene of some of the Flyers greatest (and most disturbing) moments is slated for destruction next year, bringing to a close yet another of the rinks of the past with more than a little history.

While the Flyers haven't used the Spectrum for a number of years now, having moved upscale and next door into the Wachovia Centre, you have to think that just having that ominous building greeting visiting teams was worth a point or two in the standings over the long run.

For Flyer fans it was their cathedral of hockey, a rough and tumble experience where the faint of heart feared to tread and the Broad Street Bullies gained their most fame. From NHL opposition to Russian visiting teams a trip into Philadelphia sometimes seemed like a trip to Hades itself, the gates to the Spectrum a portal into a place where the fans were rabid followers and more than a few of the players considered just plain rabid.

Yet there was more to the rink than just the violent era of the seventies. The Spectrum was home for perhaps the most successful of the first wave of expansion teams of 1968, a home for hockey's most passionate if slightly exciteable fans.

A collective that live and die with their Flyers and are more than willing to step in to help out if the home side is having a problem holding up its end of the covenant.

While the Wachovia Centre is of the cutting edge in comfort and experience for the fans, there will be many who will be left a little disappointed that their baptismal pews will soon be taken down, their temple imploded to make room for restaurants, shops and the other oddities that seem to be the requirement for sports palaces these days.

The current tenant, the AHL phantoms are on the search for a new home, no longer able to carry on the tradition of hockey in the old barn of Broad Street.

Like their team of legend that played on that famous ice, the "Spectrum will soon be a part of history, not quite as historically shocking as the Forum, Maple Leaf or Boston Gardens, but in its way every bit as significant as those shrines were to their cities.

Philadelphia Daily News-- Memories won't stand in way of progress
Phialdelphia Inquirer-- Wachovia Spectrum to be demolished
Philadelphia Daily News-- Gone but not forgotten
Phialdelphia Inquirer-- A roar and rush of memories
Hamilton Spectator-- Philadelphia's Spectrum to close and be torn down
Globe and Mail-- Philadelphia's Spectrum to be demolished

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