Heritage Classic Alumni Player Interviews: Ex-Flyers

Published on February 20th, 2011

With Fran Rubert

Center Ice sat down with three former Flyers that were involved with the Alumni game between the 1989 Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadians at the Heritage Classic. Former center man Joel Otto played for Calgary and former Flyer defenseman Kevin Haller played for the Canadiens. Also Center Ice caught up with former Flyer defenseman Brad Marsh who was part of the Calgary Alumni staff. 

Kevin Haller | Source: Fran Rubert

Kevin Haller-Former Flyers Defenseman

Center Ice: How was it playing outdoors today?

Kevin Haller: I probably had the most fun in years; it was great to see the guys; it was awesome to be out there in front of some fans that wanted to have a good time; it was nice clean fun hockey.

Center Ice: On defense it looked like you were playing at the bottom of the offensive circle there!

Kevin Haller: I call that my post career hockey position as a rover; I kind a go wherever I think I can score a goal; my defensive abilities are not quite there anymore.

Center Ice: Are you still involved in hockey?

Kevin Haller: I coach; I have four daughters and that keeps me busy and one of them plays hockey and I have been coaching her kind of all the way up and I am really enjoying that; lot of fun, really rewarding. I know when I talk with coaches in the NHL who had played they come back and say it is almost more fun than playing and I understand what they are talking about because when you put a game plan together and the team goes out and is successful it is pretty rewarding.

Center Ice: Where do you live?

Kevin Haller: I live right here in Calgary and my wife is from here. Our home town is about an hour and half away so we see everybody, so it is kind of neat.

Haller during Alumni Game | Source: Fran Rubert

Center Ice: How has your post career been, have you adjusted?

Kevin Haller: It has been awesome, for the first three years I did not want to do anything. I wanted to relax and get well acquainted with my family. When you play hockey there is not a lot of negatives but you are away from home a lot. After that I thought about doing 15-20 different things and found away to not to do anything for awhile. But the last few years now I have been getting into real estate, home construction and I have been enjoying that.

Center Ice: When you last played you went to Carolina when they were in Greensboro?

Kevin Haller: Yes that was wild because I remember we were home in our house only sixty one days during the season because every time you had a game it was like a road game. I would wake up like at eight o’clock in the morning and would not be back until one o’clock in the morning. We would have about 3500 fans for some games at the beginning but now it is a good hockey town.

Center Ice: We saw a lot of Flyer fans down there when they played you?

Kevin Haller: Yes when a lot of teams came down there was just as many fans from the other team; we would sell out against the Rangers when Gretzky was there and when they scored it was way louder than when we scored so it was a little odd.

Center Ice: The recent All-star game in Raleigh seemed to be a big success?

Kevin Haller: It is a sports town and they use to be just NCAA but when they got excited about hockey they wrapped their arms around it.

Brad Marsh-Former Flyers Defenseman 

Brad Marsh | Source: Fran Rubert

Center Ice: Are you involved in hockey?

Brad Marsh: No not really. I live in Ottawa and take care of the Ottawa alumni and that is pretty much my hockey involvement. Other than being a hockey fan it is fun to do these events and to go out and meet people; we enjoy seeing everybody and get to tell a lot of great stories.

Center Ice: Have you followed some of your old teams like the Flyers?

Brad Marsh: Oh of course, I played with Philly the longest; my wife is from there; my kids grew up there so we are huge Flyer fans.

Center Ice: What do you think about their chances this year?

Brad Marsh: They look pretty darn good; Homer has done a real good job there; it was exciting last year in the playoffs and you have to remember going into the last game of the year in a shootout to get into the playoffs so what they did was very exciting and as I said the kids are big Flyer fans and we went to a Stanley Cup final game in game four and they had a great time. We are looking for big things in the playoffs again.

Center Ice: Did you live in New Jersey?

Brad Marsh: Yes like most of the other guys and my wife is from there so we get back there quite a lot so we get to go to a number of the games and see the guys.

Center Ice: What do you think about the game and how it has changed the last couple of years, bigger, faster and the head injuries?

Brad Marsh: Well it is hard to say. I do think the concussions have to be addressed; I think minor hockey is out of control; now there is too many coaches that are teaching the aggressive hockey for all of the wrong reasons and some these kids are getting their bell rung at an early age and it stays with them when they get to the NHL. It is compounded that much more; the players are bigger and stronger but the game is good; there are an awful lot of holes; there are thirty teams and every team has a 24-man roster and I think there is a little bit too much mediocrity in the game right now; too many players of the same caliber. Let’s be honest some of the games are boring to watch.

Joel Otto-former Flyers centerman 

Joel Otto | Source: Fran Rubert

Center Ice: Are you still involved in hockey?

Joel Otto: Yes I am coaching junior hockey here in the city; it is my fifth year as being an assistant coach; we have had some good years but we are struggling a little bit and it is very enjoyable with 16 to 20-year old kids looking to trying to get the next level.

Center Ice: How do you like it working with the kids?

Joel Otto: It is great; you know they are all real good kids like I said they want to get the next level and play pro hockey; they are eager to do that and try to figure it out how to do that; they are draftable age and eighteen and nineteen age. It is fun to see the success and we have some leave the last few years that are playing in the NHL now. It is a lot of fun to keep track of them.

Center Ice: How was it getting out there and playing today?

Joel Otto:  Lots of fun; we had two great days and last night we got together with Montreal reminiscing, lots of laughs; today it was a great atmosphere; I cannot believe how many people came out; it was fantastic to see and we are just enjoying the weekend.

Otto during Alumni Game | Source: Fran Rubert

Center Ice: You were a pretty good center man and a good face off man, what was your key?

Joel Otto: Cheated probably: you know what I tried to take some pride in doing it; I knew it would get me ice time; it was a key component of the game for needing and defending scoring chances; I tried hard to take pride in it.

Center Ice: Do you keep up on some of the teams like the Flyers?

Joel Otto: Oh yeah, absolutely; they are having a great year; I don’t know too many guys there now but Homer, Paul the GM is a very good friend, a very good man; it is going to be an exciting playoffs and Philly is going to be a team to watch.

Center Ice: What do you think about the changes in the game?

Joel Otto:  I think the game is always improving; the rule changes has made everybody move their feet; I think the speed of the game has picked up; I know some of the tweaking has not made some people like it. But for the most part I think especially the playoffs last year I could not have found it more entertaining; I think they are going in the right direction.

Center Ice: The Winter Classic seems to be a big hit for the NHL?

Joel Otto: Well it certainly is enjoyable to watch; being from Minnesota I think in the states anything to generate more reasons to watch is a bonus for some markets; here in the Saddledome it is always full and they sure love their hockey here.