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Restless Philadelphia fans question direction of Flyers amidst Ed Snider’s birthday

(Elizabeth Robertson/MCT/ZUMA Press)

It’s hard to articulate the status of the Flyers, because doing so admits defeat on many levels within the self and the entire organization. The hockey results we have seen this year are more or less the same from the last 8-10 years. What is different this year is how the fans are reacting to it.

Of course, the Flyers’ mass still speaks its fluent tongue in high volumes of “we want to see that ‘want it more hockey’ by any means”. However, there is a rapidly growing population of apathetic Flyers fans that turn off the game after the first period every night. A portion of diehard Flyers “stans” on social media platforms have been slowly slipping away from us who have always taken the time to interact with fans and maintain some levels of positivity during dark times.

There were many knowledgeable, passion, caring Flyers fans that I have lost contact with because they cannot bare another conversation about this team. One person, and one idea, has kept the divided packs of fans together via his eternal passion for what it meant to be a Flyer: Ed Snider.

 

History and Cultural Impact of Ed Snider

Ed Snider was a Philadelphia icon in the sports industry, particularly for the Flyers. A fun fact that everyone may not know about Ed: In 1966, he mortgaged his home to establish the Philadelphia Flyers in the National Hockey League. Mr. Snider was always all or nothing with this team, he bet his home on it. They then quickly went on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups, notoriously known as the Broad Street Bullies, who also beat the Soviet Union out of the stadium in the 1976 Flyers v. Red Army game.

At the time of his death, Comcast Spectacor (a parent company Ed created) was responsible for the Philadelphia Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center, and Spectra. Another fun fact: when the Spectrum went into bankruptcy, guess who bought it out with their own finances? If you guessed Mr. Snider, you guessed correctly. He also created the first all-sports radio station in WIP. Even if you are not fond of Flyers hockey, or any Philadelphia sports for that matter, I am willing to bet he still touched your hearts when you saw a concert at the Spectrum (R.I.P.). You can argue that Ed Snider is the only reason we have had so many wonderful experiences and memories at these events, and he would bet his life that he could do it for a city, and he did.

Which now leads me to the drama that came about when Flyers fans noticed the Flyers organization made no plans on recognizing him when his birthday passed us on January 6th. Before I or we decide how to feel about this, let’s acknowledge a few things that likely fueled this uproar last week.

 

Ed Snider was HUMAN, and so are you

Okay, bold header here, but allow me to elaborate because I want us to discover answers and solutions. We are imperfect. It’s easy to understand and even easier to forget. We make a lot of mistakes, and there are many we’d love to forget, but we don’t, because we’re human. So, for anyone who missed it, the Flyers organization did not recognize Ed Snider’s birthday on January 6th, and many fans and Flyers media sites were outwardly upset about this. The organization made a statement essentially saying they will do more to acknowledge him in the future.

Now, I am confused because I know in very recent history the team did not do this, and fans failed to mention this then. This is not to say we shouldn’t acknowledge the person’s birthday who literally created the Flyers for us, but I do not think it’s unfair to question where this is coming from. There’s been a ton of misguided rage being throw at all directions nowadays, and we pretend like Ed Snider was never a part of any of it. I mean, he was all on board with Ron Hextall, who has been the most recent scapegoat for the Flyers’ shortcomings.

That’s not to say there aren’t great arguments out there for it, there are, but Mr. Snider was okay with all of this. There’s been a lot of noise that “Ed would not have stood for this”. Obviously, we cannot speak on what he would do now, but he was standing on it all just fine when he was still here. It just feels like we are using him as a “gotcha” moment and that doesn’t feel like the right way we should be carrying out his name. Also, let’s not sit on our high horses as if we didn’t peg his tribute bracelets onto the ice of a playoff game a week after he died.

At the same time, I agree it was a bit absurd they didn’t make any posts or do something in the stadium. I do not want to invalidate their voices because he is a household name, and the organization knows they can do better. Speaking of doing better, let’s talk about the actual Flyers team that we are all so sickly passionate for.

 

Who has resembled that “Flyers Hockey” you know and love?

In the wake of another season where our identity is having an identity-crisis, I am curious who you believe has been successful in their role this season and have maintained a brand of hockey you enjoy watching. After surveying the Flyers Nation chat, and a few personal informal sources, this is what I’ve collected:

#1. Zack MacEwen

Yeah, this guy is a rockstar simply because of his mustache, but also because he’s been very entertaining to watch this season. I remember in one of the many lost seasons we’ve had in recent years, Scott Laughton always appeared to be the one person on the ice, aside from Claude Giroux, that was visibly giving it his all. Not to say that that has left him by any means, but Mr. “I must-ache you a question” MacEwen has worn that crown since the moment he stepped onto the ice. His north-south speed and physicality is a sight to behold when he’s winning pucks, and at least looks like a guy that cares a lot for fans who are desperately seeking that in an entire team.

#2. Claude Giroux

This name was usually brought up in the same breath as MacEwen. Even with trade rumors swirling and another supporting cast… failing to support, Claude Giroux, at 34 years of age, on his last year of his contract with the Flyers, has still managed to produce 29 points in 32 games. His faceoffs are still well intact at 61.31%, good for 3rd in the league. The captain is still doing that hockey.

#3. Cam Atkinson

“You know who does their job” is a very silly saying between my buddy and I when we are talking about goal scorers scoring goals. Cam is definitely doing his job as he has potted 14 goals for 26 points in 35 games so far this season. The shoot-first mentality has been a delight for flyers fans and the organization as the team has been missing a legit shooter since arguably Jeff Carter. If Atkinson keeps up his shooting percentage at 13%, he may hit 30-33 goals this season. His overall career shooting percentage sits at 11.4% after 662 NHL games. This suggests he may be overperforming in this smaller sample size, but even if he is, he’ll still surpass the 20-goal threshold with ease, and that should make any Flyers fan pumped.

#4. Rasmus Ristolainen

I will happily admit that Ristolainen has not been bad for the Flyers so far this season. The jury will forever remain out on the guy, but once he got his bearing this season, he’s more or less played the role of a #4 pretty well. I am not sure if that’s worth his contract, but I am fortunately not paid to make those decisions. This was the sole name brought up on defense, along with honorary mentions for Braun. Rasmus’s bite to his game and ability to seal players off pucks have been fun watch, especially for myself who thought he couldn’t do it consistently enough. It’s also his knee-jerk reactions of clearing guys out of Carter Hart’s crease that has enamored the “harts” (I’m not sorry for this) of many fans, and surely his teammates and goalies on the ice.

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