Philadelphia Flyers Chairman Ed Snider's induction speech delivered
at the Renaissance Hotel in Chicago on Monday, December 12.
It's a real honor to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and really special to be in a class with these great players, Chris Chelios, Gary Suter and Keith Tkachuk.
I'm very proud that I hired the other deserving inductee, Mike Emrick for our American Hockey League Team at the time, the Maine Mariners. I then gave him his first NHL job as TV broadcaster for the Flyers. I'm still bummed that we let the greatest hockey broadcaster ever get away!
I entered the League in 1966 when we were awarded the franchise in Philadelphia. The Hockey News voted us the least likely of the new teams to succeed. Boy, I'm sure glad they were wrong, because otherwide I wouldn't be here today. In fact, I'm the longest serving member of the Board of Governors in the NHL.
We had six American players in the NHL in my first season - 1967. This year there are 216 American players.
Today three U.S. born players - James van Riemsdyk
, Matt Carle
and Sean Couturier
are currently on the Flyers roster. I'm very proud that we had a hand in developing players right in our own back yard such as Mike Richter (I wish WE had drafted him).
Bobby Ryan, Mark Eaton and TJ Brennan are also from the Philadelphia area and are playing in the NHL. None of these players, and others from our area playing in juniors, college, and the minor leagues would have ever been thinking of a hockey career if we hadn't started the Flyers in 1967. This typical of other U.S. expansion teams, and one of the reasons for the large influx of U.S. Players. Paul Holmgren, terrific player for the Flyers and now our GM, is from St. Paul, Peter Laviolette, oue Coach is from Massachusetts.
Six years ago, I started a youth hockey program for inner city kids in Philadelphia. Three years ago the city was going to close its five rinks for economic reasons. We stepped in and said we would take over management of the rinks.
We provide all of the equipment, ice time, coaching, education, free of charge to the kids. Last year we entered into a 20-year deal with the city to run the rinks. We contributed $6.5 million, matching the state and city to enclose three of the rinks. They have just been finished and they are beautiful. Now many of our 3,000 kids have ice 365 days a year. Our goal is to have 10,000 kids in the program, helping to expand the reach of hockey to more U.S. boys and girls
USA Hockey oversees this Hall of Fame and has done so many great things to advance our sport in the United States.
Congratulations on the terrific job you are doing and thanks again for this great honor.