On the surface, Philadelphia is so yesterday. Who still believes in brotherly love? And that inoperable freedom bell thingy and Ben Franklin's house are about as far from hip as Philly is from L.A. Philadelphia is a retro reality. Why does it get the glory?
Because it is one of the few cities that happily clings to its hockey past. In this case, being old-fashioned is a good thing. Rather than cry over their cheesesteaks about the absence of their beloved, locked-out Flyers, Philadelphians instead embraced the AHL's Phantoms. Or perhaps the better word is stalked. The attraction culminated with an AHL playoff-record 20,103 fans showing up at the Wachovia Center to cheer on their adopted Phantoms during Game 4 of their Calder Cup finals sweep of the Chicago Wolves. Heck, the Nashville Predators had trouble attracting that many to two games.
"This crowd was unbelievable," winger Eric Meloche says. "Philly likes champions, and right now we are the champions. Philadelphia is a championship city once again."
As an NHL city that rabidly supported an AHL team during hockey's winter of discontent, it's a winner in our books, too.