There's nothing like getting unexpected tickets to the big game at the last minute. The best seats I've ever had for an important Philadelphia sporting event happened to be for the legendary 4th and 26 game the Eagles played against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC playoffs. My dad's ticketing guy called him a couple of hours before kickoff and said he had some seats for us. They turned out being in the first row at about the 48-yard line behind the Eagles bench. Sick.
The thing I remember most vividly about that day is watching Brian Dawkins pace up and down the sidelines before the game with the look of a killer in his eyes. Then, during the game, he'd be screaming and trying to pump up the crowd like the most maniacal cheerleader ever. B-Dawk was a special player and it's a memory I'll never forget. It was also one of the major factors in my wanting to start a web site that talked about sports from a fan's point of view. And the first post ever on this site in 2004.
This past Saturday my uncle informed my dad that he couldn't use his tickets for yesterday's huge Game 6 between the Flyers and Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center.
We were in the fourth row from the glass on the side the Flyers warm up in and you bet your ass we got there early to watch the orange and black go through their pregame routine.
Jaromir Jagr's beard looked gentlemanly from such close proximity. Danny Briere was doing some sick stick work in one corner. And at one point during warmup drills, it appeared as if Scott Hartnell was interacting with a fan near the glass, causing him to be a second late to make a pass, so Giroux screamed at him. He was dripping intensity.
The thing I'll remember most from this game was the look on Claude Giroux's face before, during, and after the Flyers amazing 5-1 victory over the Penguins. During warm ups, Giroux went around sticking a shoulder into every one of his teammates to fire them up.
Now remember, the Flyers had dropped two-straight games to the Penguins, including a complete ass-whooping. There was plenty of uncertainty coming into Game 6 in Philly.
But Giroux didn't seem to have an ounce of doubt nor a moment's hesitation once the puck dropped.
The first minute of play from Giroux is the stuff Philly sports legends are made of: win the opening faceoff, rock Sidney Crosby's world with a beautiful check five seconds later, and then rip a perfect sniping wrister top shelf to put the Flyers up 1-0 and set the tone for the decisive day. It was beautiful.
But Claude's reaction from that point was just as badass. There was fire in his eyes and he pumped both his teammates and the 20,000 rabid fans in South Philly up like only the best athlete in this town can.
Peter Laviolette must have been proud of the way G put his foot on the f*cking gas.
It's one thing when a scrappy guy like Scott Hartnell wants to get the Wells Fargo Center lunatics rocking, it's another when the most skilled player in the game does the same. It can only be described as absolutely badass.
Then, following the game, we learn that Giroux told Peter Laviolette prior to the game that he wanted the opening shift. He wanted Crosby.
It just kept getting better.
Claude Giroux was already immensely beloved among the Flyers faithful, but Sunday may have elevated him to the stuff of legend.
Here's what Matt said before the game, "Time for Claude Giroux to take the series back. Youth has served this team well, but they need a closer right now. They need a captain, and it's G."
Mission f*cking accomplished.
What a day from an amazing player.
And what a memory for those that were there. 12 more Knock Knocks.