Bobby Clarke (left) and Bernie Parent hold the Stanley Cup after the Flyers beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 on May 19, 1974 at the Spectrum to win the Finals series four games to two and claim the franchise's first NHL title.
Cannot claim to ever have been a fan of the man.
With much of Philadelphia mourning the loss of Ed Snider, the founding father of continuous NHL action in the city – the Quakers only performing in the 1930-31 season – and ruler of all Flyers things for half a century who passed away Monday morning at the age of 83, it kinda disappoints me that he never earned a special place in my heart.
Respect, though, has been another story. Even if it has been given grudgingly.
By the time Snider came into my stream of consciousness and awareness that some people – some important, game-changing people – in the sports world affected things from behind the scenes, my last hockey itch had long since been scratched.
As a teen whose athletic interests had drifted far away from youthful days spent idolizing the likes of Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent and Rick MacLeish, the Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard of their era in Philly, sticks and pucks and nets and missing teeth meant about as much to me as the next biology test or high school classmates’ whines about peer pressure.
But even the evolution of an all-consuming apathy for a sport the man loved and the team he was so passionate about couldn’t stop an appreciation ultimately emerging for what Snider brought to the city … once it started to sink in that Clarke, Parent, MacLeish, back-to-back Stanley Cups and, good or bad, South Philly serving as an epicenter of area stadia wouldn’t exist if not for him.
If nothing else, Snider showed Philly it could be home to a winner and, perhaps even more important, a winning swagger. With ghosts of the Phillies’ 1964 collapse, the Eagles’ consistent drudgery, and the Sixers’ brilliant 1967 championship memories all but washed away by Boston’s dynastic waves and their own 1973 all-time laughingstock of an NBA squad casting a soul-sucking pall over the city, his creation rapidly morphed from “expansion franchise” born in 1967 to an intimidating force known as the Broad Street Bullies that put the fear of the Orange & Black in fellow NHL squads for much of the 1970s.
He and his team gave the city a pulse at a time it was touch-and-go with flatlining, and continued to pump life into it.
Not for nothing, but the Flyers didn’t just win cups in 1974 and ’75, they also made the Finals in ’76 and paved the way for one of the most incredible years for pro sports any metro region as ever enjoyed – a 4-for-4 with franchises reaching their championship round in 1980-81 to earn Philly the title “City of Champions,” a moniker it richly deserved even though it batted just .250 on the trophy front only courtesy of the Phillies claiming victory.
Anything after that, including four more trips to the Finals, stretched beyond my interest, but there is no denying the man’s impact on Philly sports and the Philly region in general. That tough, hard-nosed, never-quit edge often attributed to Philly teams, if not first seen with his Flyers, certainly was cemented by them. The tight-knit, almost cult-like community he impressed upon his teams can be witnessed even today on the ice, in the locker room and throughout South Jersey, which might as well just secede from the rest of the Garden State and rename itself Flyers Nation with all the current and former players residing there amongst their most loyal supporters.
Indeed, some, including yours truly, may be justified to criticize him for unearthing one of the most annoying fan bases in all of sports, it ranking right up there with St. Louis Cardinals fans, Michael Jordan worshippers, LeBron James haters and Nouveau Riche Patriots blowhards, but the fact of the matter is, there is something to be said, if not admired, for someone being able to engender such unyielding faith and support by others in him and/or his organ-EYE-zation.
Decade after decade, no matter how many have passed since Snider and his Flyers warranted a parade in town.
A 1999 Philly Daily News poll revealed that Snider was viewed as the city’s greatest sports mover and shaker, as he beat out the likes of Connie Mack and Bert Bell … and, frankly, like him or not, nothing has changed since then.
To me, he was an arrogant, elitist bore, and often fell prey to his own hero worshipping of certain players, but there is no denying that.
Even by me.
Rest in peace, Ed.
Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Indeed, some, including yours truly, may be justified to criticize him for unearthing one of the most annoying fan bases in all of sports, it ranking right up there with St. Louis Cardinals fans, Michael Jordan worshippers, LeBron James haters and Nouveau Riche Patriots blowhards, but the fact of the matter is, there is something to be said, if not admired, for someone being able to engender such unyielding faith and support by others in him and/or his