Through good times and bad, the Philadelphia Flyers have always been a family. Ed Snider was the family patriarch, both literally as the team's co-founder and longtime chairman and also symbolically as someone who infused his own tireless energy, competitiveness and underlying core values to what grew to become one of the National Hockey League's iconic franchises.
Ed Snider was not a native Philadelphian, but he, the Philadelphia community and the passionate local sports fan base were made for one another. His vision and legacy of not only bringing NHL hockey to Philadelphia and steering its success for a half century but also the development of the Spectrum and what became the current day Wells Fargo Complex stand among his greatest accomplishments.
"What a 50 years it's been when you think back," said Comcast Spectacor president David Scott. "It really started with one man's vision to bring a hockey team here to Philadelphia and you look around today as you come in and you see all the sports complex and what's going on here. It's truly awesome."
On Thursday, the Flyers and Comcast Spectator honored the family patriarch with the dedication of a nine-foot bronze statue in front of the Wells Fargo Center.
"Mr. Snider loved what he worked so hard to build. He loved this team. He loved this city, and speaking as a player, alumni and a staff member - we loved him back," said Flyers President Paul Holmgren. "What a fitting place for Mr. Snider's statue to be on this piece of property where he can overlook his building here and the Spectrum was behind him."
Members of every generation of the Flyers family - dozens of Flyers Alumni from each decade of franchise history, including Hockey Hall of Fame luminaries such as Bob Clarke, Bernie Parent, Bill Barber and Mark Howe, vital behind-the-scenes personnel such as Joe Kadlec and Lou Scheinfeld as well as others in the Flyers employee for many decades such as Ceil Baker - convened for the occasion.
Multi-generation members of the Snider family, with Mr. Snider's daughter Lindy serving as the spokesperson, were also on hand. Flyers president Paul Holmgren, who had the unique experience of knowingl Mr. Snider as a Flyers player, coach and general manager before ascending to the club presidency, spoke on behalf of both Flyers management and the Alumni.
"What a great day it is today," added Holmgren. "I'm sure its abundantly clear that Ed Snider was a visionary. Just the turnout today alone is a testament to the vast impact he has made on all of us."
Also speaking with personal recollections and reflections on Mr. Snider's legacy were Philadelphia mayor James Kenney (himself a lifelong Flyers diehard), NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Comcast-Spectacor president David Scott.
"He really instilled the sense of the entrepreneurial spirit in our culture and what a passion he had for winning," added Scott. "Whether it was in sports or in business, he had it and I'm here to say that passion is alive and well with all of our employees at the Wells Fargo Center."
Commissioner Bettman pointed out both the irony and appropriateness of honoring Mr. Snider with a statue. The irony lay in Mr. Snider's whirlwind spirit: he was always a man in motion, who disliked standing still. He believed in pursuing dreams, discussing ideas and fighting for what he believed in. Nevertheless, the statue is a fitting remembrance because, if any one person represented strength, sturdiness of will and the very development of the surrounding sports complex, it was Ed Snider.
Toughness was an undeniable part of what shaped Mr. Snider and the Philadelphia Flyers. So was heart, and Mr. Snider showed it in many ways: through his philanthropy, his caring for Flyers employees (players and non-players alike) and their families and, above all, to the Flyers fans who devoted their own hearts to the team.
Lindy Snider and Paul Holmgren ended the ceremony by starting what the Snider family hopes becomes a new tradition for Flyers fans: touching the Stanley Cup ring on the statue's hand for good luck. The Flyers winning the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975 was Mr. Snider's proudest achievement in his professional life.