The latest sports book in the Arcadia Publishing library is “The Philadelphia Flyers.”
Arcadia is known for its huge offering of books that are basically photographic journals about towns (including a couple about Chestnut Hill), sports (including several dealing with hockey and one that covers Connie Mack Stadium) and even a series about breweries and wineries, cemeteries, the Civil War, restaurants and theaters, to name but a few of the categories in its mammoth catalog.
“The Philadelphia Flyers” (published Jan. 11, 2016; $21.99) has been compiled by Russ Cohen, Mike del Tufo and Joe del Tufo, three longtime habitués of the Flyers press box.
Cohen is a widely published author who has written about the New York Rangers, the New York Mets, baseball’s best rookies and, with Mike del Tufo, “The Winter Classic: the NHL’s Savior.” (Full disclosure – I helped with the copy editing of the Winter Classic book.)
Mike del Tufo was the co-owner and lead columnist for Center Ice Hockey Magazine that is Philadelphia based and distributed to every rink in the area. His brother Joe is a photographer whose work has included covering the Flyers for over 15 years.
They have gathered hundreds of pictures – all of them interesting and grabbing. Flyers fans, and hockey lovers in general, will find much to enjoy and remember in the book.
While many of the pictures are the work of the del Tufo brothers, many come from the Flyers’ archives.
The book benefits immensely from Bruce “Scoop” Cooper’s foreword. Cooper has been around Philadelphia hockey for more than five decades and is probably the area’s most knowledgeable and respected hockey historian. During his many years covering the Flyers, he has worked with the NBCSN/NBC crew whenever it and its premiere announcer, Mike “Doc” Emrick, are at the Wells Fargo Center.
The authors have split the book into 11 chapters: “The Lindros Era,” “Flyers Legends,” “Bullies,” “Goalies,” “Playoffs,” Celebrities,” “Milestones,” “Winter Classic,” “Behind the Scenes,” “Recent Flyers,” and “Current Flyers.” The choices of what they’ve included are sound but I do have some concern about pictures that are not there.
In the “Goalies” section, I would have liked to see a picture and reference to Brian Boucher. In the “Lindros Era” chapter, Mark Recchi’s absence is inexcusable. I also wonder where Bill Clement’s picture is, either as a player during the Cup years or as a broadcaster for the last decade or so.
And would the Flyers be the Flyers as we know them if Kate Smith hadn’t sung “God Bless America” live before a Stanley Cup game in 1974 and been part of team history ever since? While there is a picture of Kate’s statue, there is no picture of her or her in duet with Lauren Hart, the team’s brilliant anthem singer.
There is also no picture of Lauren’s father, Hall of Fame broadcaster Gene Hart, whose play-by-play educated Philadelphians about hockey and who became emblematic of the new NHL team after it joined the league in 1967. He was critical to the team and the sport, becoming wildly popular in Philadelphia.
I was also puzzled by Scoop Cooper’s oversight in not mentioning Mark Howe’s inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame in that section of his otherwise terrific foreword where he catalogs those from this organization who have been enshrined or honored.
While these are, to my eye, noticeable lapses, they are minor reservations about what is otherwise an appealing book. I’ve already found myself returning to it often. My guess is that anyone who cares about the Flyers and their history will too.