As the Flyers celebrated their 38th playoff berth in their 49-year history on Saturday, they woke up to tragic news out of California.
Ed Snider, Chairman and Founder of Comcast Spectacor and founder of the Philadelphia Flyers, passed away at the age of 83 following a two-year battle with bladder cancer.
Snider was perhaps best known as the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, but any Flyers fan will tell you that he was more than just the owner.
When the National Hockey League announced that they were going to expand and double the size of the league from six teams to twelve, one of the last places that people thought the NHL would expand to was Philadelphia. After all, the only prior history that Philadelphia had when it came to hockey was one season of the Philadelphia Quakers who finished with a record of 4-36-4 in the 1930-31 season before folding after just one season.
Snider – who “fell in love with the game instantaneously” as he put it after seeing a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden – developed a vested interest in hockey and the NHL. Despite everything the city had working against them, Snider took a gamble on hockey in Philadelphia anyway and was granted a conditional expansion franchise in 1966. That would eventually become the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers began play in the 1967-68, and the sports landscape of Philadelphia was forever changed.
With the Flyers also came their spectacular state of the art arena, The Spectrum. As fans began to embrace the Flyers, the Spectrum quickly became a house of horrors for opposing teams. Snider’s gamble truly paid off in June of 1974 when the Flyers defeated the Boston Bruins in Game 6 at The Spectrum to win the first of back-to-back Stanley Cups.
Beyond the Flyers, Ed Snider left a lasting legacy in the city of Philadelphia and the NHL. He was also founded PRISM, the regional sports network that would become the flagship station for the Flyers up until the network ended following the launch of Comcast SportsNet in 1997.
Snider also developed a new area in 1995 to replace The Spectrum as the home of the Flyers that eventually became the Wells Fargo Center.
One of Snider’s more recent creations has quickly become the legacy that Snider himself wanted to leave and wanted to be remembered by. In 2005, he founded the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation to help children in the inner-city of Philadelphia by using hockey as a means of helping them succeed in life.
When asked about the Foundation during an appearance at the Flyers’ Skate Zone – the team’s practice facility – Snider spoke of why he started the Foundation.
“I was thinking for years about helping the inner city kids in some way, and finally, I realize the best way I could do it was through what I know best. We used hockey as the hook. We’re saving lives. We already feel we’ve saved a few.” Snider said while speaking to the media.
“It’s the only thing I’ve ever put my name on in my life. All the various things I started, all the companies I’ve owned. This is the first time I’ve used my name. I did that purposely because I wanted that to be my legacy and wanted it to last forever.” Snider continued.
The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation now has programs for more than 3,000 children in 9 different locations.
As Snider’s life continues to be celebrated, every Flyers fan is taking a moment to, not only reflect on Ed Snider, but thank him for everything.
Thank you Ed Snider. Thank you for taking a gamble on a city that had no business being a home for an NHL team and growing the franchise into one of the premier franchises in the NHL. Thank you for everything you did for the NHL, the city of Philadelphia and the entire Philadelphia area.
More importantly, thank you so much for giving us one of the most treasured things we have in in Philadelphia: The Flyers.
Thank you Mr. Snider.