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Former Flyers’ All-Star Brian Propp talks ‘Propper Hockey’ and more with Philly2Philly

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Brian Propp sure knows how to stay busy. By day, the former Flyers All-Star and broadcaster is the VP of Strategic Accounts for The Judge Group, which specializes in technology consulting, enterprise-wide staffing, corporate training and unified communications. And every Wednesday night at 9pm, you can see him on ‘Propper Hockey,’ his successful new show on WMCN.

Philly2Philly recently talked with Brian and discussed ‘Propper Hockey,’ the Flyers’ Alumni Game on New Year’s Eve, the current state of the orange and black, and the untimely passing of his former teammate and friend, Brad McCrimmon.

Joe Vallee:  You’re back in the media again after several years away from the microphone with ‘Propper Hockey.’ How does it feel to be back in that respective field?

Brian Propp: Joe, it seems pretty natural that I am back talking about the Flyers hockey team on ‘Propper Hockey.’  I was the Flyer Radio Color Analyst for nine years, so I have a great understanding of most of the players still playing today. I enjoy giving a player’s perspective on the different issues we talk about on our show.

JV: Tell us about ‘Propper Hockey’ and how it all started.

Brian Propp photo: Joe Vallee Sr.BP: Lou Tilley and I work for Marty Judge at The Judge Group. Lou runs Lou Tilley Media  for Marty Judge. I am VP of Strategic Account Management. We all talked about having a TV show called ‘Propper Hockey.’ We found WMCN, which thought it would be a good idea to have a weekly TV show for insight for the Flyers hockey fans in the Tri-State area. We wanted it to be insightful for the fans and have had a lot of former Philadelphia Flyers on the show giving their insight along with Lou and me. We have had a good response about the show the past month.

JV:  One interesting aspect of the show is how you discuss your guests’ life outside the rink as well as on the ice. You told me you think people find that interesting, and I tend to agree.

BP:  A lot of the former Flyers still live and work in the Tri-State area. They are involved with charities and the communities. They know a lot of people and I think it is good to have the people know what the former players are doing for work and how they help the communities.

JV:  In your day job, you do work for the Judge Group, which specializes in staffing and consulting. I would imagine more often than not you get recognized from your playing days with the Flyers.

BP:  I work in the Comcast Center in our office in Philadelphia. I have been in this area for 32 years and have been very active with a lot of charities. I am involved in a lot of charity golf tournaments so over the years I have met a tremendous amount of people that live and work in our area. I see a lot of people that I know just by walking around in Philadelphia. I work with a lot of companies in our Tri-State area so I continue to meet more people, but being a former Flyer has helped me meet and get in the door to talk to companies about The Judge Group.

JV:  Are you impressed with the Flyers’ success with such youth, the off-season overhaul, and how Peter Laviolette (in a lot of ways) is basically coaching a new team?

BP:  I have been impressed with the Flyers this year. I didn’t expect them to be one of the best teams in the League at this point of the season. I thought it would have taken longer to improve with all of their new players, but Peter Laviolette has done an awesome job of coaching and getting the best out of the new players. It will be more difficult with Pronger out for the season, and they will need a healthy Giroux  to continue to be one of the top teams.

JV:  Recently, we were all saddened to hear of the loss of your former teammate, defenseman Brad McCrimmon. His seasons paired with recently inducted Hall of Famer Mark Howe were legendary. What are your thoughts and memories of Brad?

BP: I knew Brad McCrimmon since we were both 15. We played hockey against each other when we were 15. He was with the Prince Albert Raiders and I was with the Melville Millionaires in the Saskatchewan Junior A League. We both joined the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Major Junior A League in the Western Hockey League the following year and played there together for three years. We were best friends and both got drafted in 1979 in the first round. We ended up playing together with the Flyers and later with the Hartford Whalers.

Brad was one of the best leaders a team could have. He always helped the young players, led by example on the ice, and made sure that the team did a lot of things together off the ice also. Brad made everyone feel at home on a team. I know Brad’s family well and also his wife Maureen’s family well. He has been missed by many of his former teammates, but mostly by his family.

JV:  Speaking of Howe, he is a new member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Was he the best player you played with in Philadelphia?  If not, who was?

BP:  I was thrilled to see Mark Howe get inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. I thought he should have been inducted a few years before this year. Mark was the best defenseman I ever played with on the Flyers. Mark should have won the Norris trophy three times in the 80’s, but his dedication, leadership and consistent play always insured team success which is what Mark cared about. He gave the Flyers a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup every year. I did play with Bob Clarke for five years, and he was the best leader and forward I ever played with in the early 80’s. Tim Kerr was a great goal scorer and the best winger I played with while with the Flyers.

JV:  How excited are you to part of the Flyers Legends Game on New Year’s Eve leading up to the Winter Classic? You mentioned on the show that you still get together with some guys and do a morning skate, but I would imagine it’s been some time since you played with Clarke and some of the other guys that will be playing in the game.

BP:  I have had a group of players in our area that have skated together since 1997. When I retired from hockey, I ran the Medford Ice Rink in Medford, NJ. We started a group morning skate a couple times a week. The group of players still have the morning skate, but now we have it at Pennsauken Skate Zone. We are called MHL (Morning Hockey League). It has helped me stay somewhat in skating shape. It will be fun to be a part of the alumni Winter Classic game on December 31st and I’m looking forward to that. There will be a great group of the best players the Flyers ever had, so I’m sure the stories will be awesome.

JV:  Did you ever think you would see the day when Eric Lindros  would be wearing a Flyers jersey again?

BP: Joe, I’m glad Eric will be part of the Winter Classic Alumni Game. He was a great player for the Flyers, and after players retire, it’s always nice to be a part of the alumni from those teams. He will be a great addition to the Flyers alumni team and the fans will be happy to see him here for the game.

JV: Do you have any stance on how the NHL should be handling the concussion ‘plague’ or how they could do a better job preventing them?

BP: I feel that concussion’s are being looked at a lot closer today and am glad the teams are being more careful about keeping players out of the line-up until they feel healthy again. The brain needs time to rest after a concussion, and once players start getting multiple concussions, their careers are in danger. The NHL has studied the concussions and have a better base-line testing system for the players. That is the right step to take. A lot of the concussions seem to be accidents involving players running into their own teammates. I think the NHL and teams have taken the right precautions by being proactive and making sure the players are healthy before returning to play in games.

For more updates on Brian's ongoings, check out his site at www.brianpropp.com  and for more information on The Judge Group, go to www.judge.com

You can watch Brian on 'Propper Hockey' every Wednesday at 9pm on WMCN and you can also watch it on the internet at  http://www.livestream.com/propperhockey

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Very special thanks to Sir Ryan Patrick Downs for his two cents.

First photo: Joe Vallee Sr.


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