EDITOR’S NOTE: Banners on the Wall is a series consisting of interviews with former Idaho Steelheads skaters Scott Burt, Marty Flichel, Jeremy Mylymok, and Cal Ingraham – the only players to have their numbers retired by the Idaho Steelheads. The interviews are published in reverse chronological order from when each player had his jersey retired.
Flichel had his number 16 retired on January 17, 2015, after playing nine total seasons with Idaho (eight in the ECHL and one in the WCHL), retiring from active play in 2012. He holds Steelheads’ records for games played (497), goals (180), assists (295) and playoff points (60). Flichel was team captain during the Steelheads’ 2007 Kelly Cup Championship season, contributing 22 points in 22 postseason games. He also holds the Idaho ECHL record for most assists (six) and points (seven) in a game.
The Sin Bin: You and your family still reside here in the Treasure Valley, correct?
Marty Flichel: We do! We’ve been here since the fall of 2002.
TSB: What led you to stay here in Boise?
MF: My wife and I were 25 years old, and we’d traveled around for a few years…we were kind of done with that. I talked with (then-Idaho Head Coach) John Olver, and we were blessed enough for me to sign here in ’02. I knew at that point that I wanted to finish my career here. The wife wasn’t too sure of it at that point, but it only took her about three months to fall in love with Boise. We’ve got two girls now, ten and twelve, that were born and raised here. It would take something big to move us out of Boise; we absolutely love it.
TSB: Your current full-time occupation is as a mortgage officer. What exactly piqued your interest to go into that field post-playing career?
MF: I’m a numbers guy…not so much a school guy, but obviously I had to go back and take some tests to be able to do this. Like any new career, I wasn’t sure how it was going to be to start. It didn’t take too long to get pretty busy. It’s a new adventure every day, which is different for me. I’m not so much a guy that is up for surprises…I want to know how my week and month looks. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with doing loans. I’ve gotten used to it, though. It’s a lot of fun; I like helping people. With first time home buyers, I’m guiding them along in a process that can be a little daunting at times. It’s such a big step in people’s lives. To take their picture and shake their hands to welcome them into home ownership…it’s just great.
TSB: Being a mortgage officer fills your days. But, your nighttime gig this past season was as an assistant coach for the Boise State University Hockey Club. Tell us about that.
MF: I helped out a little bit. It wasn’t as much as I wanted to. They changed their schedule around. When I committed to it at the start of last year, I wanted to help out with practices, but they got moved to from first thing in the morning to nine or ten at night. I’m not really much of a night owl these days, so it was a bit tougher to commit to the evening practices. We’ll see how things go this year.
TSB: All four Steelheads players that have had their numbers retired have gone on to coach in some capacity. You personally, what drew you to start helping out behind the bench on the collegiate level?
MF: When I first got done playing in 2012, I worked with some kids and tried to help out with practices here and there. I wish I had more time! You look at a guy like (former Steelheads player) Kory Scoran…he’s done a great job with the youth hockey program around here. When you’re born and raised around hockey, it’s just in your blood to still be around it. It gave me a great opportunity to come to Boise. I’ve given back a little bit…like I said, I’d like to give back a little bit more. It’s enjoyable teaching it.
TSB: In your final playing season for Idaho (2011-12), you only played 27 regular season and ten postseason games. Did injuries play a part in you hanging up the skates for good?
MF: Somewhat, I guess. I don’t think you’re ever really ready to say, “Hey, this is my last year.” It just happened. I definitely played long enough, I think. It was great to walk away without too many surgeries. In that aspect, I was pretty fortunate…there’s a lot of guys who aren’t that fortunate. I got a little banged up the last couple years. My last year, I had a minor surgery that kept me out of the line-up. It was just quality of life at that point: whether or not it was really worth it; family time, was it time to move on…things like that. Everything played a role in making the decision, but I don’t regret it at all. Like I said, I was fortunate to play as long as I did and stay pretty healthy at the same time.
TSB: In your Western Hockey League days, you were on the Tacoma Rockets when they made their move to Kelowna, BC in 1995. What was that like to make such a big location transition in your fourth and final year in the WHL?
MF: It wasn’t too bad since the whole franchise moved and it wasn’t just me moving. It was the same coaching staff, same guys, same players…it was just relocating to a different city. It was obviously different going from the States back to Canada, but it was great [Flichel grew up in Saskatchewan]. Anyone that knows anything about Kelowna, British Columbia…it’s a beautiful spot. We got treated really well while we were there. It is a great organization. It was a little bit of a change, but at the same time, it was fun to go play back in Canada for a year. We had a really good setup there.
TSB: Have you been back to Kelowna since then?
MF: I went back when one of my old teammates was the goalie coach for the (Los Angeles) Kings, and they won the Cup; I lived with him up in Kelowna. My old billets called me and asked if we wanted to come up for a get-together for him since he had a day with the Cup. So, we went up there six years ago, and it was great to get back there to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while. Like I said, anyone who knows anything about Kelowna, it’s a beautiful spot in the summer, for sure.
TSB: You’ve played a fair share of leagues over your career. Can you give quick capsules as to what made each of those leagues unique to you?
MF: First and foremost, starting in the old IHL, I was in the Dallas system and that’s where their affiliate was [Flichel was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 7th Round of the 1994 NHL Draft]. So I went to Kalamazoo for a couple years. I started in Kalamazoo my first-year pro as a 20-year-old, only played 19 games that year, and then I got sent down to the ECHL in Dayton for 35-40 games. I then played my next two years back up in Kalamazoo.
Then, I decided to take off to Europe. I wasn’t sure…I kind of looked around a little bit, AHL-wise and IHL-wise. It was tough for a guy like myself coming off of an NHL contract. I decided to make that jump, went to England and had a great time over there. It was very similar to the ECHL over there, looking back on things. There were a lot of American and Canadian guys, some Europeans. But as far as the quality level, it was very similar to the ECHL.
So I went over there for a couple years before going to the WCHL back in Tacoma; that’s where my wife is from. I played there for a year, and then the team folded, so I ended up here. I traveled around for a little bit, but I’m very happy and blessed to call Boise, Idaho our home.
TSB: You must have had some draw to go back to Kalamazoo for a second time, this time in the UHL.
MF: I did a little bit, since I’d been through there when I was in the Dallas system. To go back for another year, I was very familiar with all the people. Some of the staff…not so much the coaching staff, but the city for sure. The coach at the time, the late great Mark Reeds, eventually went to coach in Ottawa (for the NHL’s Senators). I had an opportunity to go back, and I loved my time in Kalamazoo, so I was fortunate enough to get another shot going back there. It would have been a little bit more fun being here (in Boise) to get my first ring, but it definitely was a lot of fun.
TSB: You just alluded to Idaho winning their first Kelly Cup in 2004, the same year you were playing for Kalamazoo in the UHL. Do you regret not staying with the Steelheads for that season?
MF: In hindsight, sure. I mean, you never know what’s going to happen. Obviously, it was great for the guys to win it. Unfortunately for myself, I wasn’t part of it. It was a little redemption with being able to be a part of the 2007 team. But they had a great team in ’04 there, to be able to get through and win the championship. It would have been nice to have a couple rings, but I was fortunate to get one later on. There’s a lot of guys that play for 10 to 15 years that don’t get a chance to do that, so again, I was very blessed to win one in ’07.
TSB: Speaking of 2007, how special was it for you to defeat your former team in the Kelly Cup Final that year [Flichel played in the ECHL for the Dayton Bombers in 1996-97]?
MF: It was kind of nice, actually, since I played there for about two or three months. I knew the area and arena a little bit. I don’t think any of the guys had been through Dayton and played there, so in that aspect, I was able to help the guys a little bit and prepare for when we went there for games 3, 4, and 5. Looking back, you always like to win the championship at home, but you never let someone back in it. We were up three games to one, and ended up winning game 5 on the road. It was a good time, one of the best years I’ve ever had.
TSB: Last October, it was announced that you were going to be joining the Steelheads broadcast team alongside Brian McCormack as his color commentator. What led to your decision to re-join Idaho in an official capacity like that?
MF: I sat down with (Steelheads President) Eric Trapp and talked…just kind of wanted to get involved a little bit. That was an opportunity. He said, “Well, how would you feel about helping Brian do some games?” And, I’d actually done one game the year before because of the (20th Anniversary) Alumni Game. I know Kory Scoran and Troy Edwards, both guys I played with, did a game talking about guys they played with and helped Brian out. I don’t know if Brian said something, but it just kind of came to fruition that they asked me if I’d be interested in doing it. I said, “Yeah, you know what? Why don’t we try that out, as long as Brian is okay with it.” I was able to help out and do that.
It’s obviously a whole different deal. You really respect a guy like Brian who does a tremendous job who listens to the games all the time. He made it pretty easy; he just teed it up for me, and I didn’t have to do that much or dig that much. He’s a true professional. He does a great job, so it wasn’t that hard jumping into that. It is definitely a skill, and the guys that do that are definitely skilled people. (Winning ECHL Broadcaster of the Year) was well-deserved. If you talk to anybody around that arena or anyone involved with the team, everyone thinks that guy is the cat’s meow. He does everything, doesn’t complain, and does more than he should probably a lot of times. He’s very well liked in the community; hopefully, he sticks around for a few more years to come.
TSB: What has been the most enjoyable aspect about doing color commentary this past season?
MF: I guess it’s just being around the guys, being down at ice level, and being around the benches — what goes on that people don’t see or catch. It’s cool to be around that realm of the game. Just being down at the arena again…I missed it. It’s nice to be a part of things again. I can’t speak enough about the organization and what they’ve done for my family and me. It was nice to get back involved, help out, and give back.
TSB: Are there any Steelheads players that stick out as being a crucial puzzle piece for Head Coach Neil Graham heading into the 2018-19 season?
MF: Well, a few names…but I think the biggest name is (Steelheads captain) Jefferson Dahl. He is just a true leader, does a great job, and very well-respected in the locker room and by Coach Graham. He would leave a tough void to fill. You know, I’d like to think he fell in love with the city, as well. The fans really enjoy watching him play, and have fell in love with him.
(Henrik) Samuelsson is another big name; he started the season really well in the first couple weeks. He backed off a little bit, then, and he got called up to the American League and had a pretty good year there. Some of the Steelheads are probably looking for AHL contracts, but unfortunately, there’s only so much room. I’d like to think that hopefully there will be a few of those guys back. Coach Graham does a good job. I think he is very well-respected, too, in the locker room with the players. I’m sure a lot of guys would love to come back, it’s just a matter of them liking to be at the American League level. We’ll just see how it shakes out. But, I’m sure he’ll hound those players (to re-sign).
TSB: Who do you think will be the next Steelheads player to get their jersey retired?
MF: I’d have to say Jefferson Dahl. The league has changed a bit as far as guys playing out their career and a number of years in a city in the ECHL. I think with him…he’s at four years now [over 200 games played], he’s a fan favorite, puts up good numbers. If there’s one guy, I would say it would be Dahl.
Listen to C.C.’s interview with Marty as part of the Hockey Talk Podcast series, here: https://thesinbin.net/hockey-talk-podcast-episode-9-idaho-steelheads-legend-marty-flichel/