There are two ways to run a professional sports team: as a passion, or as a business. Right away as you look around the league, any league, you can tell who is who. Ed ran the Flyers like they were his passion because they were. He founded them. He oversaw their evolution from a team who got the snot beat out of them night in and night out to the team who reversed the trend and took that model to its logical conclusion, mixing intimidation and skill to win back-to-back Stanley Cups, the first for any expansion team. The team never lacked for money. No expense was spared. The Flyers were his second family. He loved them, and they loved him.
All Philly sports fans ask for is for the players to care as much about the team as we as fans care about the team. In Ed, we were lucky to get an owner who cared as much as we did, too. He was a fan, one of us, someone who wished to be known as Ed but who commanded such respect with his demeanor and actions that many referred to him as Mr. Snider. He was a fan from the beginning, but he saved his greatest act of love for the end.
Ed promoted Ron Hextall to GM in May of 2014 knowing Ron would take the long road, starting a patient rebuild of the team which would hopefully allow them to finally capture a Cup. There would be no more quick fixes, no more trading of draft picks and prospects for three months of an aging defenseman. In doing so, Ed knowingly gave up any shot he had of seeing the Flyers win another Cup. He was already 81. The process would take too long. But Ed cared so much about the Flyers that he wanted them to succeed even if he wasn’t there to see it. That was Ed.
When a person of Ed’s stature dies, stories come out. Sometimes they’re good, and sometimes they’re not. Listen to the stories that come out about Ed as told by former players, his friends, people who came across him. No one is forced to say anything about Ed, but many will. Nearly all of them will be positive, painting the picture of a man who cared for people and his team. That wasn’t a front; that was just Ed.
Ed Snider loved the Flyers the way we love the Flyers. We loved Ed for it, and we always will. Rest in peace, Mr. Snider.