Appearing as a guest on Thursday's "NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman," Philadelphia Flyers
owner Ed Snider touched on a variety of topics including realignment, the current state of his team and his upcoming induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Snider brought the Flyers into the League in 1967-68 as part of the first expansion, which brought an end to the Original Six era. Within seven years they were Stanley Cup champions, and repeated the following year in 1975.
The Flyers started out in the West Division before moving into the newly-created Patrick Division for the 1974-75 season, and they have been part of the Atlantic Division since its inception for the 1993-94 campaign.
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With the Board of Governors having approved realignment at this week's meetings, pending approval from the Players' Association the Flyers will find themselves in a conference next season with their four current Atlantic rivals -- the Devils, Islanders, Rangers and Penguins -- as well as the Capitals and the Hurricanes.
"I thought it was going to be a long, drawn-out debate, and it was relatively simple because it seemed like everyone was well-versed in it and knew what they wanted," Snider said. "As far as I'm personally concerned, I think we gave up a lot in the sense that we loved the system and the divisions we had, but we did it because we felt that it was the proper thing to do for our partners in the League. It solved almost all of the problems and that's why you got the vote that you got.
"I'm concerned because I think the playoffs are going to be very rough for us in the conference that we're in, and it's going to be hard to get out of that conference to get to the Finals, but listen, if you're the best team, you're going to do it. So that's what we have to face. But unfortunately it's going to be a battle."
Since claiming their second Cup, the Flyers have been back to the Final on six occasions, as recently as 2010, without winning a championship. They entered Thursday night's home game against the Penguins one point behind Pittsburgh for first in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, and with the League's leading scorer in Claude Giroux
, who has 16 goals and 36 points.
"We're very excited. I mean, I really like the makeup of the team," Snider said. "We've been playing a lot of young players -- one night recently we had 10 rookies in the lineup. There's a lot of enthusiasm. They're playing hard, the coaching is outstanding, and I've got my fingers crossed for a great season. So far we're doing well despite major injuries from time to time. We're hanging in there, so I'm excited and I just can't wait to see how it all comes out."
Snider, whose contributions to hockey in the U.S. include not only his stewardship of the Flyers but his work with the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, will enter the Hall in a ceremony Monday in Chicago along with former players Chris Chelios
, Gary Suter
and Keith Tkachuk
and broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick.
"I'm very honored to be inducted in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame because I've been involved in hockey in the United States since 1967, and when I started there were six U.S. players in the League and now there's well over 200," Snider said. "So we've seen it grow tremendously, not only at the NHL level, but at the amateur ranks, the college ranks and throughout the United States. And the organization's done a great job and I'm glad to be recognized as one of the people who helped U.S. hockey grow."