Flyers founder Ed Snider remembered for love of the game
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Ed Snider once kicked Donald Trump out of a suite during a playoff game.
No, not because Snider, a noted Ayn Rand disciple, may have had differing political views from Trump.
The offense - The Donald would not stop talking.
Snider never wanted an interruption when he watched his beloved Philadelphia Flyers, the team he founded and owned until his death last week. He was remembered Thursday for his love of the Flyers, the fans and family at a public tribute at the Wells Fargo Center.
Bobby Clarke, the Hall of Famer center and perhaps the greatest Flyer, had one wish for when he died:
''I really hope I get one more chance to play a game in the orange and black for Mr. Snider's Philadelphia Flyers,'' he said.
Snider would cringe when he was called Mr. Snider. He told everybody he knew - employees, the media, players - to simply call him, Ed.
They rarely complied.
He had earned immense respect as arguably the most influential executive in Philadelphia sports history. Stanley Cup championship banners from 1974 and 1975 flanked the stage and the Flyers kept center ice cold and the logo shone bright on the floor inside the darkened arena. ''EMS'' - initials for Edward Malcolm Snider - was painted on a banner and enveloped by a wreath.
Snider died April 11 after a two-year battle with bladder cancer. He was 83.
''It really hurt and it's going to hurt us for a long time,'' Clarke said at the memorial that was open to the public.
Present and former Philadelphia sports executives Billy King, Dave Montgomery, Scott O'Neil and Peter Luukko were among the mourners.
Snider's children remembered him as a dad who warned them not to feed stray cats at the old Spectrum: ''They're here to catch the rats.'' Michael Milken, the junk bond king of the 1980s, credited Snider for his ''commitment and willingness to explore new medical treatments.''
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Snider was a friend and confidant who helped shape the NHL.
Bettman made a final visit in January to Snider's California home for lunch. Bettman said Snider was in considerable pain but the Flyers owner felt worse that a gloomy day had left them unable to see the mountains and the gorgeous view.
Snider told Bettman he loved him.
''I love him, too. We all do,'' Bettman said. ''His impact on all of us is permanent. The fire in his eyes is now an eternal flame.''
Bettman noted Snider had many homes, ''but Wells Fargo Center is the center of where Ed Snider lived.''
Snider developed the arena, which opened as the new home of the Flyers and 76ers in 1996. 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.
He founded the Flyers in 1966 and his Broad Street Bullies became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup.
But it was a 1972 postseason series defeat that would shape the Bullies and Snider's locker room pep talk still resonated with Clarke.
''Boys, don't worry about it. We're going to be stronger because of it,'' Clarke recalled him saying. ''Two years later, we won the Stanley Cup.''
Snider always wanted to be remembered for more than hockey. He started the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation in 2005. The foundation promotes life skills and hockey through after-school, recreational, and other educational activities. Snider hockey programs are provided at no cost, and focus on underserved Philadelphia boys and girls who otherwise would not have the opportunity to play.
Snider Hockey kids wrote letters and drew pictures about Snider's impact on them and they were stationed around the arena's concourse.
''To me, Mr. Snider meant a new opportunity, a new opportunity to do something great,'' once child wrote. ''If I could say anything to him, it would be, thanks for letting me play a game I now love.''
For all that Snider meant to the city, he was always full of gratitude for what Philadelphia and the Flyers gave to him.
''The last full sentence he ever spoke to me, and this is what he said, not just for me or the family,'' son Jay Snider said, choking on his words. ''He told me so I would tell you. And I quote, `I can't thank the Flyers enough for everything they've given to me and my family. Thank you.'''