Ed Snider's passion for the Philadelphia Flyers and his players is his legacy among current members of the team.
Snider, the Flyers' founding owner and team chairman, died Monday after battling cancer. He was 83.
He hadn't been at any home games this season, but in the past he made a point of visiting the locker room after games and talking to the players.
"To have the owner of your organization come into the dressing room and shake every single player's hand means a lot," forward Wayne Simmonds said. "I think it really lets you know the way he felt about this team."
Through 50 years of ownership, Snider's players never noticed that passion wane, and they were reminded of it during the postgame handshake sessions.
"After games when he came in the room, it's hard to describe the excitement," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "You'd see him come in and every time he'd come in you'd get nervous a little bit, especially after a loss. He'd come to you … we'd lose and he'd be telling us we played a great game and we played hard, we're going to get them back, and he'd get really fired up. It kind of made you forget about that loss and be worried about the next game."
For Simmonds, who came to the Flyers in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in June 2011, being so hands-on with ownership was different for him.
"We never really spoke with our owner in L.A.," he said. "So I got the chance to come to the Philadelphia Flyers and he was one of the first people I spoke with. It was amazing, to me, the interaction that he had with his players and how he cared about everyone so much. Just his passion for this organization, for hockey. He was a great man."
Said forward Jakub Voracek, "When you have an owner like Mr. Snider was, it's easy to get up for every game."
Video: Flyers GM Ron Hextall on remembering Ed Snider
General manager Ron Hextall had a relationship with Snider that dated to 1986, his rookie season with the Flyers.
"Certainly my relationship with him changed over the past two years," he said. "I feel honored to have dealt with him the past two years as a general manager. It's different as a player; it's terrific as a player. One thing that you know as a player: He cares deeply about the uniform, about the logo, but he cared about you as an individual and he cared about your family. Those are special traits. … I feel very fortunate to have been certainly part of his life, part of his franchise as a player, a scout and now GM. It's been an honor to work for him."
Snider welcomed the Flyers into his California home when they were on a West Coast trip at the end of December.
The players knew it could be one of their last chances to spend time with Snider.
"We went in there and he was so gracious," Simmonds said. "Just to get that opportunity to be able to spend a little bit more time with Mr. Snider and really talk to him, it meant a lot. It meant a lot to all of us."
After returning home from California, the Flyers went 26-12-7 in 45 games; their 59 points between Jan. 3 and the end of the season were the fifth-most in the NHL. And when their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Washington Capitals starts at Verizon Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-PH, CSN-DC), they'll have something extra to play for.
"Mr. Snider was all about hockey," Simmonds said. "He loved the Flyers and this is what he wanted. He stuck with us through everything this year and I'm extremely happy that we got into the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs for him. Although we will be playing with heavy hearts, we're going to do everything we possibly can to be successful in the playoffs because that's what Mr. Snider would want. I know there's nothing else that he wanted to see more than the Flyers winning another Stanley Cup. And that's definitely our goal, and we're going to go out there and strive to bring the Cup back to Philly."
Video: Philadelphia Flyers founder Ed Snider dies at 83