April 18, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Flyers honored founder Ed Snider before Game 3 of the playoffs in their first home game since his death last week.

There were reminders of Snider on Monday night all around the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers hanged a banner outside the arena with Snider's picture and the caption ''A Flyer Forever.'' His silhouette was inside the Flyers logo for the customary playoff T-shirt giveaway, and some fans left flowers and cards at a makeshift memorial next to the team flag.

''EMS'' - initials for Edward Malcolm Snider - were painted on the ice behind each net.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said before the game Snider was ''a dynamic visionary who turned Philadelphia into one of the great hockey towns.''

Lauren Hart, the team's longtime anthem singer, sang ''God Bless America'' with Snider's name and ''67'' on the back of her team jersey. The Flyers' first season was 1967-68.

Snider, the Flyers founder whose Broad Street Bullies became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, died last week after a two-year battle with bladder cancer. He was 83.

''The last week was a little tough,'' Flyers captain Claude Giroux said at morning skate. ''I think it was tough on a lot of people, and that includes the organization, everybody that was ever involved with the Flyers. I think ex-players that have a relationship with Mr. Snider, I think it's going to be pretty emotional.''

Giroux's comment last week in the wake of Snider's death flashed on the big screen following a video tribute: ''He is the Philadelphia Flyers.''

Hart's eyes watered and her hands were shaking throughout her performance. Hart is the daughter of longtime former Flyers broadcaster Gene Hart, and she alternated lyrics with Kate Smith, who was on a video image. Smith's rendition of the song has been a rallying anthem for the Flyers since the mid-1970s.

Snider watched Hart sing ''God Bless America'' on FaceTime before the home regular-season finale. She held out her phone during her performance and blew kisses after the song.

The Flyers trailed the Washington Capitals 2-0 headed into Game 3 of the first-round playoff series. Capitals center Mike Richards was Philadelphia's team captain when the Flyers last reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010.

''I was privileged enough to get to know him a little bit and spend some time with him whether it's at the rink or basketball games with him,'' Richards said. ''It was definitely an honor to get to know him and be around him a bit. I think everyone that's talked to him knows how great of a guy he was.''

Snider was arguably the most influential executive in Philadelphia sports. He was chairman of the 76ers, was once a part-owner of the Eagles and had a hand in founding both Comcast's local sports channel and the city's largest sports-talk radio station.

Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.

Upon hearing that the NHL was going to expand from its original six teams to 12, Snider was awarded an expansion club in 1966. The Flyers played their first game in October 1967 in front of 7,800 people.

About 20,000 fans dressed in orange shirts went wild on Monday - then hushed during a moment of silence for the man who brought hockey to Philadelphia.

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