He was the face of the Philadelphia Flyers for half a century. But the legacy of Ed Snider, who died April 11 at age 83, extends far beyond the confines of the Wells Fargo Center.
Look around, at all the rinks that have been built in the Philadelphia area in the years since the Flyers came into existence and the flow of traffic around them, hockey players and figure skaters alike.
Ed Snider and, through him, the Flyers organization, spurred the growth of amateur hockey in this area and while this growth might have occurred in any case, it happened a lot faster than it might have otherwise with the franchise’s involvement.
Certainly the Flyers organization had some self interest in all this. Young hockey players became Flyers fans and future season ticket holders. But while I never met or interviewed Mr. Snider I got the sense that ultimately, his ultimate purpose was to share his passion for the game of hockey with as many souls as possible.
And so he did, through vehicles like the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation for inner-city kids but also through the organization’s support of amateur and high-school hockey which I’ve been privileged to cover for the better part of two decades.
The Flyers Cup tournament, which was played for the 37th time this spring, was the cataylst for the growth of high-school hockey in this area.
There was a time when the Flyers organization had a representative at every Flyers Cup game; the tournament wasn’t as expansive as it later became, and each game was a special experience. At the evening’s conclusion media members would choose three stars, just as if we’re an NHL game. The Cup finals would be played at the old Spectrum.
The Flyers organization isn’t as hands on with the tournament it once was, but the event is still the highlight of the high-school hockey season.
And look around the rink some cold night next winter, not just at a varsity game, but at the young men (and young women) skating for junior varsity and middle school teams.
Ed Snider’s legacy is about a lot more than two Stanley Cups.