Paul Holmgren

Ed Snider statue a special reminder for Flyers and so many more

Ed Snider statue a special reminder for Flyers and so many more

Boldly, Ed Snider will forever stand stoic and distinguished overlooking the empire he created — an iconic portrayal of a pioneer entrepreneur who exuded authority and resolve.

A statue commemorating the late Flyers founder and Comcast Spectacor chairman was unveiled Thursday, facing the southwest corner of Broad Street between the Wells Fargo Center and the previous location of The Spectrum, his two homes away from home.

“Not just the likeness but the character of Dad is so incredibly real in this sculpture that it’s almost scary,” Snider's oldest daughter Lindy Snider said. “You can see his focused and determined look and that drive in him, and we kids always called it ‘The Eye.’ And believe me, it was very scary.”


Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

The ceremony was attended by an impressive list of dignitaries, including a long list of "Broad Street Bullies," Hockey Hall of Famers and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

“He was a consummate ball of energy,” Bettman said. “Ironically, his memory will stand here idly for us all to see and to remember because he was a man who was constantly, constantly in motion, and that’s how I will always think of him and remember him.”

Philadelphia will now remember him always in the perfect spot.

“Ed Snider was a visionary,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. “What a fitting place for the Mr. Snider statue to be on this piece of property where he can overlook his building here, The Spectrum was behind him, and this area he envisioned — that he built for all of us.” 

For the city of Philadelphia, it has an equivalency to the Blarney Stone. Snider's family requested the inclusion of a Stanley Cup ring on Snider’s finger so fans could pay tribute to the legendary owner by rubbing the ring as a good luck charm.  


Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Unintentionally, but certainly symbolic, Snider has his back turned to the direction of New York, home to the Rangers team he and so many of the players despised for decades.

“We all hated the Rangers in those days, probably still do,” Bob Clarke said with a laugh. “It’s a beautiful statue. It represents him so well, everything that he stood for and accomplished."

From Clarke to Bernie Parent hoisting the Stanley Cup, to Gary Dornhoefer’s legendary goal in the 1973 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Kate Smith singing “God Bless America,” all of those statues located throughout the sports complex wouldn’t exist today if it wasn’t for Snider’s dogged determination to bring the game of hockey to the Delaware Valley in the 1960s. 

Dillsburg, Pennsylvania’s Chad Fisher commissioned the 1,300-pound bronze statue that stands on a three-foot granite base, and over the last seven weeks it became a labor of love, working endlessly seven days a week, 12 hours a day to ensure the project’s completion.

“You’re closing in and everything needs to be solidified and you've got to look over everything,” Fisher said. “It gets very intense in the end.” 

Three and a half years ago, the 34-year-old Fisher unveiled his meticulous representation of former Flyers head coach Fred “The Fog” Shero located just outside XFINITY Live! right off Ed Snider Way. One man called upon to create a likeness of the two most influential figures in the 51-year history of the Flyers franchise. 

“We had a chance to meet with Mr. Snider during the Fred Shero unveiling, and he was so gracious to my family and I, especially my kids,” Fisher said. “This was more than just a statue. It was really a chance to do this for someone who meant something, not only to this city, but to me and my family. He really gave us our start.”

For then general managers Clarke and Holmgren, who strived to bring “one more cup” to Snider, they know the chairman would be proud of the team current GM Ron Hextall has assembled behind an organizational approach that has been radically amended over the past few years. 

“It’s not only a terrific honor, but it’s fitting and somehow it’s comforting,” Lindy Snider said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s been watching over us all along anyway, and Paul, especially you. He wants a Stanley Cup, and the pressure’s on and you’re not off the hook.”

And now there’s a likeness of Mr. Snider that will forever serve as that constant reminder.

Danny Briere to run day-to-day operations of Comcast Spectacor's Alaska Aces

Danny Briere to run day-to-day operations of Comcast Spectacor's Alaska Aces

The Alaska Aces of the ECHL has been purchased by Comcast Spectacor and will relocate to Portland, Maine.

They’ll start playing in 2018-19 at the Cross Insurance Arena under a new name.

The Flyers will oversee the franchise with club president Paul Holmgren as the team’s governor while former player Danny Briere will oversee the day-to-day operations of the team.

"I am very excited about this," Briere said. "We don't start until the following season, so it gives us time to get things in order."

Asked whether this was something he wanted to do after working with the Flyers in the sales department since his retirement or whether this was merely a new opportunity that came along, Briere said, "Both I guess."

"We are excited to reignite the hockey tradition in Portland," Holmgren said. "The Flyers organization has a strong commitment to winning and developing future stars, and we intend to bring that same culture to this franchise.

"We’re also happy to have an opportunity to assist Spectra in its commitment to the Portland region and the Cross Insurance Arena, a great facility that has recently benefited from a major renovation."

There’s a bit of history here to Maine.

In 1977, Spectacor purchased an AHL expansion franchise — the Maine Mariners — to play at Cumberland County Civic Center.

They were a Flyers affiliate until 1983 and played in Portland through 1992, before being replaced by the Portland Pirates.

The Mariners won the Calder Cup in each of their first two seasons, and added a third in 1983-84.  

The Reading Royals will remain the Flyers' ECHL affiliate.

Comcast Spectacor will soon begin hiring staff, establishing a team website, and naming the club.

Popular former Flyer Ilkka Sinisalo dies at 58

Popular former Flyer Ilkka Sinisalo dies at 58

Ilkka Sinisalo, a somewhat underrated member of one of the most prolific scoring clubs in Flyers history, died Wednesday in Finland at age 58.
 
He had battled prostate cancer for more than three years.
 
Sinisalo had been a European scout with the Flyers since 2004. Sinisalo, who once served as Flyers defenseman Janne Niinimaa's landlord in Finland, was well-respected within the scouting ranks and was also asked to voice opinions on North American prospects. He even gave his advice on European pros who were hoping to play in the NHL. 

He was the first Finnish player in Flyers history and was immortalized by Sign Man's "Ilkka Score-a-goal-a."
 
"Ilkka was a true friend and loyal member of the Flyers," Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. "He gave a great deal of his time, effort and talents to the organization in several capacities as a player and longtime scout to bring this franchise success on and off the ice.
 
"Most important to all that knew him, he was a great person, a loving husband, father and grandfather. His presence and friendship will be deeply missed by all that knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife of over 35 years, Carina, his sons Niklas and Tomas, as well as Tomas' wife, Maija and their children Peter and Matilda."
 
Sinisalo was one of the quickest, smoothest skaters in the entire NHL during that era when goals were scored by the bushel. He played up and down the lineup on Mike Keenan's teams.
 
"Ilkka was awesome to play with," recalled teammate Brian Propp. "He always knew how to score. He picked the corners, he never missed the net and he was a two-way player. He made a difference for us on the second and third line because we needed scoring and he filled that role."
 
Sinisalo's best season was 1985-86 when he had career-highs in goals (39) and points (76). That particular team, led by Propp's 97 points, had four players with 76 or more points and five players with 27 or more goals, led by Tim Kerr's 58.
 
Pelle Eklund's 51 assists that year remains a Flyers rookie record. Just an amazing offensive team.
 
"He played with [Peter] Zezel and [Rick] Tocchet a little bit [on the off-wing]," Propp said. "And with Derek Smith and Lindsay Carson. He was pretty good at hanging in there with guys.
 
"He was one of the best guys around. We had a balanced scoring team and with Mark Howe and Brad McCrimmon at the point, we had chances to score."
 
Sinisalo was here parts of nine seasons from 1981-82 to 1989-90. His 199 goals as a Flyer are fourth-best in franchise history among right wings while his 408 points are sixth-best in the same category.
 
"Just a terrific guy," teammate Rick Tocchet said. "A skilled player. I am shocked right now."
 
Sinisalo made two appearances in the Stanley Cup Final with the Flyers -- 1985 and 1987 against Edmonton.
 
"Ilkka was a very good player, a great teammate, but most importantly an outstanding person and a terrific friend to us all," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. "We've all had the pleasure to work with him for many years and he will be missed." 
 
He joined the Flyers as a 23-year-old rookie in 1981, signing as a free agent after playing four seasons for HIFK Helsinki in Finland.
 
"His first goal was a penalty shot, I remember that," Propp said.
 
Indeed, that came during an 8-2 rout over Pittsburgh at the Spectrum. Sinisalo had 15 goals and 37 points during his rookie year.
 
A defensively-responsible player, he was a plus player his entire career as a Flyer and retired plus-135.
 
His 11 shorthanded goals as a Flyer remains tied for 10th-most with Simon Gagne and Don Saleski.
 
Tocchet said he was one of the most versatile players he'd ever seen.
 
"Honestly, he played with everyone," Tocchet said. "Could play left or right wing."