Five years ago today, the sports world lost a legend in Ed Snider. The Flyers, however, lost their soul. Snider had been battling cancer, and lost that battle, as so many have. The Snider Family released the following statement on the passing of their father:
“During his lifetime, he cultivated a cherished circle of friends whom he loved dearly–and who loved him back–whether in Washington, D.C., Monmouth, Maine, Philadelphia or Montecito, California. Unrivaled, however, was his love for the Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Club, the team he created 50 years ago and to which he remained fiercely devoted through his final days. 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. 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.”
So much has been written, even by me, on what the Flyers are missing this year. Looking back, I have to think that Ed Snider’s passing, and the selling of the team by his children was a hurdle that the Flyers are still having trouble getting over. Snider developed a culture of family in his team. He considered his players, staff and coaches his family, and they knew it. As fiercely devoted as he was to this team, the team was just as devoted to him. He was a fixture in the stands, and often visited the locker room before and after games. He had a hand in every decision made, and he filled his team’s staff with Flyers. Paul Holmgren. Bobby Clarke, Ron Hextall; when Ed Snider was alive, they were all still Flyers. Snider’s children sold the team to Comcast Spectator before Mr. Snider was even cold. It was at that moment that the Flyers lost their soul and lost their way.
Ron Hextall was fired and replaced by Chuck Fletcher. Fletcher had no previous ties to the team, and it shows. He recently placed fan favorite Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers, something I can assure you that Ed Snider would not have allowed. I joked then that Fletcher was dead to me, that I had to turn my back on him. (For those that don’t know, I am Sicilian; watch GoodFellas for the reference if you don’t get it. Great movie.)
The actual moment when I knew that Chuck Fletcher was dead to me was the day he traded Wayne Simmonds, another move that Ed Snider would not have allowed while there was still breath in his body. Simmonds was, and will always remain, a FLYER. He is on the board of Snider’s youth hockey foundation, put there by Mr. Snider himself. His wife was, at the time of the trade, pregnant with their first child.
The deal was done, sending Simmonds to Nashville. Who did the Flyers get in return? No one that matters, I know that much. So those of you crying now for Fletcher to make a trade deadline deal would do well to remember that Chuck is apparently not good at the trade thing, sit down and be quiet. He could trade Carter Hart and Provy to the Pens for some used pucks and magic beans, so I say let him keep his phone in his pocket.
I write often on how the Flyers were my first love, and truly, they are. This team has seen me through a lot, and I stand by them through it all; the ups, the downs. The 2010 Finals loss, the years without any playoffs at all; I am there to see it all. Am I disappointed in this year’s rendition of the team I love? Yes. Am I going anywhere? Hell to the no, kids. I love this team, and for me, love means loyalty almost to a fault. When you find that love, you hold onto it with both hands. There might be bumps in the road and little disappointments, but in the end, that love will be rewarded.
Will the Flyers make the playoffs? In my heart of hearts, I know they aren’t perfect, and I am coming to grips with sitting the playoffs out this year. I still watch the games, still appreciate the sexy goals by TK and G. Why? Because I know that someday soon, they are going to make that dream a reality, that’s why.
Ed Snider knew it; when you find the love that speaks to your soul, you fight for it, no matter how crazy it might look to others. All that matters is what is inside your heart, what you see in your heart. In my heart, in my soul, the Flyers are winners. That is all that matters to me. Call me a girl all you want, and you know what? You are right. I am a girl in love, and I really don’t care what anyone else thinks. I am sticking by this love because I know from experience exactly how hard it is to find.
So, my message to my boys in orange and black is that I am not going anywhere. You have had my heart from the beginning, almost from hello. All I ask is that you promise me to do all you can to make the dream a reality. Give it everything you have, put your heart and soul into it and I will be happy.