Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Flyers Pumped to Make Ed Snider Proud against Capitals

The passing of the man who brought hockey to Philadelphia is currently adding passion to the boys who play hockey in the city of brotherly love.

Flyers' founder Ed Snider died on Monday at the age of 83, succumbing to bladder cancer after a two-year bout, and the memory of the man who is known as one of the most enthusiastic sports owners in professional sports will be heavy on the hearts of his players as they take on the daunting task of facing the NHL's President Trophy winning Washington Capitals in the first round.

"We'll be playing with heavy hearts."But at the end of the day, I think Mr. Snider wanted us to win a Stanley Cup," Wayne Simmonds said after Tuesday's practice. "It's time to focus in on that now. We've made it, and now we have to kind of set the reset button and focus on Washington."

Simmonds said he had been thinking a lot "about what Mr. Snider meant to all of Philadelphia. It kind of puts a little extra pep in your step, a little bit extra motivation, because we know we now have an angel looking on us. We've got to play our butts off and make him proud."

Earlier today Greg Wyshinski revealed a funny story on his Marek vs. Wyshinski podcast about Snider. He said that he was waiting in the locker room with reporters to talk to the Flyers after a big win (2011), and in came Snider to address the team first. As Snider was leaving the room, he got down on the ground and busted out five motivational pushups while his team looked on and laughed. Note: In 2011 Snider would have been 78 years young.

Snider was a man that lived for his team, and it's one of the reasons that so many players come to play and live in a city that is known for being brutal to players and coaches when things go bad.

His family wrote about Snider's love for the team in a statement. This is pretty moving:

"With every game during the push to make the playoffs this spring we hoped he would survive to see the Flyers win just one more game," Mr. Snider’s children wrote. "He gave the last ounce of his indomitable energy and strength to live through this hockey season, but now the Flyers must win without him. He fought his last years, months and days with courage and grace and recounted his love for many, including his Flyers family and fans. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the community, his friends and all those who were fortunate to have been touched by him in some way, large or small."

What is also moving is this Facetime video that Claude Giroux recorded for Snider on Saturday when the Flyers clinched the playoffs.

Snider, who was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, has also won numerous awards for philanthropy over the years. He was a wildly successful businessman on many fronts, but always his heart and soul was with the Flyers.

Here's what Bobby Clarke, who won two Cups with Snider in '74 and '75, had to say about his boss, per Sam Carchidi of Philly.com

"He was a great owner, and it wasn’t just because he wanted to win all the time. He treated us as players so much better than all the other teams when we first got started. We were the first team where the wives got Christmas presents, the first team to fly on the good airlines and stay in the good hotels."

Earlier this season the Flyers stopped at Snider's home in California while on a west coast trip. He was ailing at the time, and for the first time in a long time he did not make the season opener in Philadelphia. Giroux said the first thing he noticed was a massive Flyers banner decorating the driveway area.

The Flyers won't have Snider with them in body as they try to derail the juggernaut Capitals starting Thursday night in Washington, but the spirit of the man will most certainly be with the team.

"We’re pretty glad we were able to make the playoffs for him," Giroux told the media on Monday. "The whole year, we were playing for him. That’s not gonna change for the playoffs. The best thing we can do right now is play as hard as we can. We know it’s not going to be easy against a good team, but we know he’ll be watching and he’ll be cheering us on."