PHILADELPHIA – Ed Snider won two Stanley Cups with the Philadelphia Flyers that he founded, launched a regional sports and entertainment cable network, and is enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
But it’s the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation that the late team owner said would be his legacy.
“It’s the only thing I’ve ever put my name on,” Snider told me in 2015. “We’re going to fund it properly and when I’m no longer around hopefully it will be a program that will go on forever.”
Snider passed away in April 2016 at the age of 83. And, true to his word, the one thing that he named after himself is not only alive, it’s thriving.
So much so that Snider Hockey announced Friday that it will make the University of Pennsylvania’s Class of 1923 Arena home for the youth hockey program that serves over 3,000 Philadelphia-area kids, many of them from under-resourced communities.
As part of the agreement with Penn, Snider Hockey is providing $7 million to help make upgrades and renovation to the aging arena. Once the work is completed – tentatively in October – Snider Hockey will expand its programs and operations at the arena located in West Philadelphia.
“Mr. Snider had a lasting impact on our lives, as well as the entire hockey community in Philadelphia,” said Flyers Alumni Association President Brad Marsh said, who played with the team from 1981-82 to 1987-88. “This pledge was made as a way to honor Mr. Snider’s legacy and continue to grow the sport of hockey.
Snider Hockey, part of the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative, teaches the Philadelphia-area’s at-risk youth about the world of possibilities beyond their neighborhoods and life skills through the prism of hockey.
“We are delighted that Snider Hockey wanted to strengthen our longstanding relationship by choosing Penn’s ice rink to be its home,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “The Flyers and the Foundation’s investment in the rink will greatly improve the facility allowing it to sustain the program for many years to come.
Snider Hockey is contributing $4.3 million for the renovations; the Flyers Alumni association is kicking in $2 million; the NHL Industry Growth Fund is donating $600,000 and Penn is adding $600,000.
“This is a great example of what can be done when organizations come together in support if their community,” Snider Hockey President Scott Tharp said. “Mr. Snider would be proud to have a truly great institution – the University of Pennsylvania – as a home for Snider Hockey.”
And what better way to celebrate than with a hockey game?
The Flyers Alumni played a charity game against Snider Hockey alums at Class of 1923. Steady defensemen Jim and Joe Watson and other Flyers from the 1974 and 1975 Cup teams suited up for the game with recent orange and black retirees that included Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere, goaltender Brian Boucher.
Many of the players from both squads felt at home at the arena Friday, with good reason. The Class of 1923 rink has hosted Snider Hockey since the organization’s creation in 2005. And it was the Flyers’ main practice rink from 1969 to 1983.
“The Class of 1923 Arena was part of my daily life when I first arrived with the Flyers, so coming back there for the Alumni Showdown and the announcement of the renovation plan with Snider Hockey is going to take me back to some old memories while we’re celebrating the facility’s future,” Marsh told the Flyers Alumni’s website.
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