The View From Mt. Airy 04-12-2016

33d1af30-d169-4cbf-8262-6457260137c9Flyers owner and CEO Ed Snider passed this weekend in California. Ed Snider was the Joe Namath of franchise owners. Cool. Connected. Threw cash at his Flyers that you knew was backed by passion as much as it were the promise of success. Ed Snider taught a city hockey, and captured the love and dedication to a franchise that bordered on cult worship. The Flyers, under his nearly 50 year stewardship became unquestionably the most successful expansion team outside of the Original Six. He helped to shape, grow, and move the NHL out of realm of a niche sport and into the national consciousness as cable and satellite television brought ice hockey to every corner of America.

But all along, even as he created Comcast Spectacor and worked on the landscape of the sport he loved so ardently, there was never a question. The Philadelphia Flyers were his baby. His true love and that sentiment was unwavering. The Flyers were 1st, 2nd and last in his heart and it showed. Walk through the Wells Fargo Center during any home game and you’ll always find the halls littered with ex Flyers from generations past. The motto has always been “once a Flyer, always family” and it remains true. The Flyers arrived in Philadelphia in 1967 and a parade for the new franchise attracted a rousing party of 75….six years later the Flyers would become the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup and a parade would wind through Philly with 2 million party goers in attendance.  Though they repeated in 1975, the Flyers haven’t won a third title despite 7 trips to the NHL finals since. That never dissuaded Mr. Snider. He poured money like the Yankees into free agency, trusted his execs to execute the plan, all the while maintaining the family feel that separates the Flyers from so many other pro sports organizations.

Ed Snider built and funded 6 inner city arenas so that the children of Philadelphia can play and learn ice hockey free of charge. Skates, padding, sticks and equipment all underwritten by the foundation created by Mr. Snider to fund urban hockey. When I drive through Philly today I see children of every color walking to hockey practice and playing in city leagues. This all Mr. Snider’s doing and an incredible legacy unto itself. There are over 5,000 kids playing city hockey now under the Flyers umbrella at zero cost.

Ed Snider radiated cool, and I’m left with our last meeting to summarize Mr. Snider. I’m leaving the Flyers game two years ago on a frozen February night. While I ease onto the expressway, I see Mr. Snider pull up on my right in that beautiful silver Jag with the FLYERS1 PA tags. I wave and say hey. I can see him thinking, finally he looks up and goes, “How ya been Phil?” I was not and no one in Philly would be, surprised he knew their name. He was a great man, an amazing owner, and he was one of a kind. Follow me on Twitter: @MtAiryPhil and catch me each week on N The Zone and follow on Twitter & Facebook.

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it was love at 1st strike..... Sports analyst, Wrestling Historian and arbiter of urban life.... Follow on Twitter@ mtairyphil

2 thoughts on “The View From Mt. Airy 04-12-2016”

  1. Very nice work Phil. I’d like to add a couple of things if I may:
    I thought Gene Hart taught us hockey.

    Devils are / were more successful than us,

    They repeated in 1975, not 1974.

    But again, a really, really nice piece.

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