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The Last Sports Mogul

Excerpt 4: Flyers Chairman Ed Snider Dancing to Black-Eyed Peas

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Ed Snider, Philadelphia Flyers
Ed Snider's Philadelphia Flyers made a wild run to the Stanley Cup Finals before falling to Chicago in 2010.

Fourth (and final) in a series of excerpts from “Ed Snider: The Last Sports Mogul,” written by Alan Bass and published by Triumph Books. This excerpt on the Philadelphia Flyers’ co-founder is from Chapter 16.

The Flyers 2009-10 season had not gone too well up to that point. Their fall left Snider fairly dejected as he watched his team plummet to the bottom of the league standings by December.

In his Montecito, Calif., home, he received a call from GM Paul Holmgren, who wanted to discuss firing coach John Stevens in favor of Peter Laviolette, who he knew was willing to take the job. As usual, Snider asked many pointed questions of Holmgren before acknowledging that, if he felt a coaching change was in the best interest of the team, then that was his decision to make. The move was executed at the start of the month, and although it took the team a few games to get used to Laviolette ’s new system, the club began winning games, slowly climbing up the standings.

Boucher to rescue

By April, they were sitting on the playoff bubble and challenging for the final spot. The regular season came down to a final game against the rival Rangers — the winner would advance to the playoffs, while the loser would end the season on the outside looking in. In one of the most dramatic games in Flyers history, goaltender Brian Boucher shut the door in a shootout against future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist, clinching the playoff berth for the Flyers and igniting a boisterous celebration in the Philadelphia Flyers dressing room after the game. Snider, as always, was one of the first people to burst through the door, and with a huge grin on his face, gave hugs and handshakes to every player. “This one ranks No. 2,” he said to the Courier Post, referencing the game in which the Flyers clinched the 1974 Stanley Cup. “My heart can’t take any more of these.”

… Through that entire playoff run, Snider was exuberant, perhaps more so than he had ever been. With Father Time slowly making himself known, gone were the days of him stressed and angry with each goal scored against his team or each loss. Instead, it was replaced by permanent pride in the remarkable achievements of that season’s squad. One team staffer described him as “a 20-year-old kid” with “so much energy.” On top of his usual post-game handshakes, he developed a love for the Black-Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling,” which often played in the dressing room after wins. He would burst into the dressing room, screaming, “I want to hear my song!” The team would crank up the volume as their 77-year-old chairman danced through the room and high-fived his players, showing his love perhaps like never before.

Enjoying a wild ride

When the team flew to Chicago for the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, Snider brought his entire family, wanting to share the wild ride with everyone close to him. Eating dinner at the famous Carmine’s, he spilled spaghetti sauce on his white dress shirt, where- upon his daughter ran next door to a sports shop and found a XXL T-shirt that said “Broad Street” on it. She bought it, and he slipped it on with an enormous grin, saying, “This thing is great!” He joined his players at a bar across the street to have a beer and dream about what might happen over the following two weeks. Even though he yearned for just one more Stanley Cup, it was more about his players, more about being with them and showing them how proud he was of their accomplishments and knowing that he cared so deeply about each member of the team.

The magical run ended in the sixth game of the final as the Flyers lost in overtime, giving the Stanley Cup to Chicago at the Center —  bitter pill to swallow for the chairman. With the doors closed to the locker room just after the game, Snider came in with a smile on his face, pushing through the hurt. He told his players that he was prouder of this squad than any other iteration in Flyers history. Despite his disappointment, he never expressed anything but joy and pleasure at the men who had worked so hard to even get within two games of a championship, which was the closest the Flyers had gotten in over 20 years.

Excerpt 1: Flyers Co-Founder Ed Snider is ‘The Last Sports Mogul.’

Excerpt 2: Ed Snider, Future Flyers Owner, Discovers Hockey.

Excerpt 3: Ed Snider’s Bizarre Superstitions Connected to His Beloved Flyers.

“Ed Snider: The Last Sports Mogul” is available here. It is also available at local Barnes & Noble stores.

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