[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it on http://broadstreetbully.net.]
When I had heard about the passing of Ed Snider, I immediately texted Drew and Doyle to make sure we did something as a memorial. On a podcast that features moderate hockey commentary, as well as awful jokes and dumb soundboard clips, it was a hard endeavor to make any tribute seem meaningful. So, in the end, we settled on chugging a beer in Mr. Snider’s honor and calling it a day.
And that’s all I thought about it for a while. That was, until today. After watching the highlights of the Ed Snider Memorial that was held at the Wells Fargo Center today I realized that chugging a beer probably wasn’t enough for a man I had never met but had provided me with so much.
The first game I watched, if you haven’t read the “About Us” section on the website (and I don’t blame you because reading is for nerds) then you wouldn’t know, was two days after I was born, with my dad, in the hospital. Clearly, I don’t remember the details of the game seeing as I was two days old but, as the classic story goes, my dad was almost forcibly removed from the hospital for waking up an entire room full of freshly born, sleeping babies when the Flyers scored.
The first hockey game I went to was the Flyers versus the Minnesota North Stars at the Spectrum. My Dad still has the scorecard from the game and manages to show it to me every chance he gets. I don’t remember who won or lost that game but I do remember the Spectrum and just how loud it was. As a child, it was terrifying. I can only imagine what it was like as a player going into it.
The first time I remember feeling true sports disappointment was 1997, when the Flyers got swept out of the Stanley Cup finals. That entire run was so exciting and for it to end that way was absolutely heartbreaking. But it never stopped me from loving the Flyers. By that point, I was already too far in.
Since then, the Flyers have had their ups and down. I’ve been privy to a team that ran out of defense and saw Sami Kapanen do what he had to. I saw a team play the Lightning to their breaking point but come up a few inches short. Drew and I went to ten or so games the season the they finished dead last and still lost the Patrick Kane draft lottery. I got to be in a room full of people that exploded into a, for lack of a better term, victory pile when Lupul scored in game 7’s overtime to seal the series against the Capitals. I’ve got to see an improbable Stanley Cup finals run that began on a shooutout win against the Rangers and was headlined by an improbable, and mostly impossible, 3-0 series comeback against the Bruins.
Throughout it all, I’ve wanted to punch a hole through a wall at the bad plays and, at the same time, have never been happier when they make up for their mistakes.
The Flyers have also led me to this podcast. You may not listen to us. Or you may listen and hate it. And that’s fine. I don’t really care either way. You can’t please everyone all the time. I do know that I get to sit around with two of my friends and ramble on about Flyers hockey. Do we always agree? That doesn’t matter. Am I getting paid for it? No, but that doesn’t matter, either. Are we sometimes offensive? Yes, and I apologize for that ahead of time. We don’t mean to offend anybody but we just have weird senses of humor. Please don’t take it personally. But if anybody listens to us and joins in on the banter, that’s exciting. I’ll talk sports with anyone I can. I manage to make friends with opposing team’s fans at Flyers game because I just love talking hockey with people who love the game as much as I do.
What it all comes down to, and the whole reason I sat down to type this rambling out, is that all of my great Flyers’ memories are thanks to Mr. Snider. When Philadelphia was awarded a franchise in 1967, we were voted the most likely to fail (Turns out it was actually Pittsburgh!). My Dad has told me stories about that first few years of the franchise and how no one quite understood what they were watching when they walked into the Spectrum. Or how stores didn’t sell hockey equipment so him and his friends had to tape the small, wooden souvenir sticks to brooms in order to make full size hockey sticks. Or how they had to steal old couch cushions and wrap them in duct tape to make goalie pads so they could all argue over who got to be Bernie.
Luckily for me, by the time I came along, the Flyers were fully rooted in Philadelphia. And that was all as a result of Mr. Snider, who was as much a fan as he was an owner. Say what you will about him but everything he did, he did in an attempt to make the Flyers better.
From inception to current day, Mr. Snider bled black and orange and he never made any attempt to hide it. It showed from what he expected out of everyone in the organization and it showed from what he did for the community. The Flyers will never forget Ed Snider. And I’ll never forget what Ed Snider did for me. I’ll always have the Flyers as something I share with my Dad. And no matter what happens, that will never change.
With all this being said, I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr. Snider that really hit home with me for whatever reason. I’m not quite sure why but I really love it.