Former Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Robbie Nichols found himself in a weird position Friday as his Elmira Enforcers had several injured players on their roster. The Federal Prospects Hockey League team evidently needed some help and called upon the 55-year-old who hadn’t played in a professional game in 25 years.

In 1983, he was drafted by Philadelphia but never played in the NHL. He made 520 appearances in the IHL and AHL combined and played his last professional game in 1993.

“As you get older, you get slower. I couldn’t keep up with these kids. My mind can go. My legs can’t,” Nichols told ESPN on Sunday. “But it was exciting to be there. You get competitive again.”

Elmira’s coach Brent Clarke met with Nichols on Friday morning to let him know the lineup was banged up. Going into Friday’s game the team was down six players, five due to injury, and another was in California to deal with a personal matter.


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Clarke had played himself just a week ago scoring a hat trick and had made appearances in 27 total games as a emergency player since his retirement in 2016. “He’s had 10 points in the last three games he had to play in. He’s been the best player on the team in the games he played,” Nichols said.

Around 11 am on Friday Clarke told Nichols, “If I’m playing, you’re playing.”

Nichols told ESPN, “I had to think about it a bit. I knew I’d be sore. But some Advil before the game and during the game meant I wouldn’t feel pain until after the game,” Nichols said.

Before the game he found himself looking for some inspiration. In the 80’s as a player on the Kalamazoo Wings, Nichols recalled a game where finished with six points after eating a big mac and fries prior to playing. Surprisingly he drove to McDonald’s and ate the same thing on Friday.  “Maybe I’d have my best game ever. Or just get through it,” he said.

During pregame warmups the owner was taking part in stretching and messing around with a soccer ball with other players in the locker room. He ended up getting into the game for six shifts and was even called for a roughing penalty with ten minutes left in the second period.

“The first period was tough. I was terrible. I had three shifts and didn’t get much done,” said Nichols. “The second period, I started getting my legs. I ran over three guys. Had some good hits. And got a penalty.”

The 55-year-old said he felt fine on Saturday, but soreness set in on Sunday. It’s very rare that an owner actually dresses, let alone plays for the team he signs the checks for, but it is definitely cool to see.


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