He Was a Flyers Fan. He Won the Stanley Cup With Pittsburgh

Jim Britt grew up outside Philadelphia. He rooted for the Flyers. His dad works for Snider Hockey. Now he’s a Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Jim Britt holds the Stanley Cup on the ice after the Penguins win

Photo courtesy of Jim Britt

I was watching the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate their Stanley Cup victory when I spotted a familiar face on the ice. There was Jim Britt, with his wife, posing for a photo with the Stanley Cup.

Britt and I were classmates at Holy Ghost Prep. He played on our school’s hockey team, which his dad coached. The Flyers had been to the Stanley Cup Finals just before our freshman year of high school together, and it seemed like the Legion of Doom line would one day bring the Stanley Cup to Philadelphia for the first time in either of our lives.

Sixteen years after we graduated, the Flyers still don’t have a Stanley Cup win since 1975. Jim Britt does. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup on Sunday night, clinching the series with a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Britt is the Penguins’ director of team operations. The Richboro native is now a Stanley Cup champion — his name will be engraved on the Stanley Cup alongside players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

“The word ‘surreal’ keeps getting used a lot,” Britt says. “Every June I’m watching the Stanley Cup on TV getting presented, and you’re always thinking, ‘Man, that’d be awesome, that’d be great.’ You don’t ever really think that it would actually be you. That for all the time we spend, all the hours and everything, for it to actually have happened this year is pretty crazy.”

Britt first joined the organization while at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre. After an internship with the team, his first job out of school was in ticket sales with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Though he says he knew he “did not want to be a ticket sales rep,” he did want a job in hockey. He eventually worked his way out of ticketing, and held various jobs with the Penguins’ minor-league affiliate.

So what was it like to be a Flyers fan working for their in-state rival? “There was a bit of a separation there while I was in Wilkes-Barre, because I didn’t really relate to Pittsburgh yet,” Britt says. “You don’t feel like you’re a part of the Pittsburgh organization — I didn’t at least, maybe others feel differently. So it was still easy for me to be a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins employee and fan and also love the Flyers.”

But as players he got to know while working for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton affiliate began to contribute to the Penguins, he started to feel more connected to the franchise. Just as that happened, he was hired by the big club in Pittsburgh to be their video coach in the summer of 2009. While doing that job, he occasionally filled in at goalie in practice.

Britt has been in his current role as director of team operations for four seasons. He’s basically in charge of everything with the team that doesn’t have to do with hockey. He works out the details for the team’s flights and hotels, figures out schedules and gets immigration papers in both the U.S. and Canada for the Penguins’ players. He’s the team’s body man.

Britt has been working in pro hockey for about 12 years and says the team, which changed coaches midseason, is closer than any one he’s been associated with before. “I’ve never seen a chemistry like our group had,” he says. “Every hockey team is friends with each other, but the group was just so close and so driven to do what we did.”

Britt’s father — who was born and raised in Philadelphia — is the executive vice president and COO of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Now he has a son who’s a Stanley Cup champion. Despite growing up a Flyers fan, Jim Britt is now a Pittsburgh Penguin forever.

“I’ve lived here for nearly as long as I did in Philadelphia — it’s so much a part of who I am now,” Britt says. “Folks question, ‘Well how can you do that when you’re from Philly, how can you work for those guys?’ And it’s just so much of who I am now, and I feel so much a part of who the Penguins are because of the roles that I’ve had and how long I’ve been here.”

Plus, he has a pretty good story for our next high school reunion.

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