Phil Weinberg, one of the most influential people in the Flyers' organization over the last 30-plus years, died on Wednesday. He was 66 years old.
Weinberg was married to his wife Terry and had two children Sydney and Zach. His death was unexpected as he was recovering from hernia surgery. Weinberg fought bladder cancer.
The Philadelphia native was the alternate governor of the Flyers and executive vice president and chief legal counsel for Comcast Spectacor. He played an integral role in the birth of the Wells Fargo Center and the merging of Comcast and Spectacor.
"He was that guy that you didn’t see but got it done," Ike Richman, a former longtime Comcast Spectacor communications executive who now has his own PR firm, said Thursday night. "Got it done to make everybody else look good. He was the guy in the trenches making stuff happen."
Weinberg came on board in 1990. He worked with and was a close confidant of Flyers founder Ed Snider.
“There are a lot of people that the fans see — they obviously see the players, they see the coaches, they see the general manager, they sometimes see the owner or the chairman. These are the people that are kind of the faces of the franchise and they’re out in front, but Phil was one of those people that, behind the scenes, was always doing things to help this franchise," longtime Flyers play-by-play announcer Jim Jackson said Thursday night. "He was one of those people you have to have in an organization, that do a lot of the work. He didn’t get much of the praise or certainly the limelight or anything like that, but he was involved in a lot of different things.
"The one thing he did get some publicity for was the [Eric] Lindros trade, then the dispute and the hearing and all that over his acquisition, but there were many, many other things from that time forward where Phil was involved."
Weinberg had a wide-ranging impact on the organization, overseeing various matters involving litigation, finance and business. He was also on the board of directors for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and Flyers Charities.
When Snider died in April 2016, Weinberg wanted to make sure that Snider's foundation and legacy would forever be preserved.
Scott Tharp, the president and CEO of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey foundation, met Weinberg about 16 years ago. They became close friends.
"We’ll miss him dearly," Tharp said Thursday night. "He was someone that I could always rely on to pick up the phone whenever I had a question or a dicey situation with the foundation. I don’t think he ever gave me bad advice. ... He was someone that I always relied on for counsel.
"At times, Phil could be a bit of a contrarian, but he did that to push us to make us better. I really learned a lot from him. Just devastated by the news. It’s a life too short."
Jackson last saw Weinberg at the Flyers alumni game a little over two weeks ago.
"We talked about our kids, we talked about the team, we talked about broadcasting — we talked about so many things," Jackson said. "He just seemed so good. When I heard the news today, I was absolutely flabbergasted. So sad.
"For me, he was the voice of reason. Whenever there was stuff going, I’d go to Phil and get his opinion on it or advice. He always knew what to say to calm you down or to basically give you the perspective, which we needed to have. This had to do with team stuff, it had to do with life stuff — it wasn’t all hockey.
"He was just a super guy."
A masterful attorney, Weinberg was detail-oriented.
"One of the things that will forever stick with me was he was a stickler for grammar," Richman said. "I have downloaded the 'Grammarly' app. I make sure that everything I do goes through that app because in my head, it has got to pass the Phil test. I have an app that I do a daily grammar test every morning to challenge my brain because I still want to make sure that my stuff will pass the Phil test.
“He wanted to push us to be the best that we can — to be the best communicators that we can and that required good grammar, good writing skills. He pushed us for that.
“He loved mentoring people. He helped guide people, teach people."
Weinberg was a key advisor to Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott.
"Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of Phil Weinberg’s first day with the Flyers, and for more than three decades, Phil poured his heart and soul into this organization and all that it stands for in the city of Philadelphia,” Scott, the governor of the Flyers, said in a statement released by the team Thursday. "Phil loved the Flyers, he loved our fans, he loved this city and he loved this organization. He was an invaluable advisor to both Ed Snider and me, he was a beloved mentor and colleague to hundreds of employees over the years and he cherished the history and tradition of this organization.
"Phil’s passing is heartbreaking for me personally and for everyone here because he exemplified the unique culture that the Flyers have built over the years, based on loyalty, determination and family. He was, and will remain, an institution within the Flyers organization, but above all, we will remember him as a kind, brilliant friend and devoted husband and father."
Born in 1955, Weinberg went on to graduate from Hamilton College in 1977 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. He earned his law degree from Boston University in 1983.
"Very smart guy, highly intelligent," Jackson said. "He was the kind of guy that always knew what to say and how to say it to make you feel good."
Weinberg was a philanthropist, having served on several charitable boards in Philadelphia.
“He was very charity-minded," Richman said. "I think that he always wanted to make sure that everybody had opportunities like he did. That was important for him — to make sure that everybody was given an opportunity, whatever part of the community they were in."
Like Snider, Weinberg was a tennis aficionado.
“Phil was much more enthusiastic than he was skilled but he loved the game of tennis," Tharp said with a laugh. "I enjoyed playing with him. Just a couple of weeks ago at our most recent Snider Hockey board meeting, he told me he really missed playing. ... He said he couldn’t wait until he recovered from his hernia procedure that he just had and asked if I would go out and hit with him to help him get back in shape. I made that promise to him. Regretfully, that’s not going to happen now. I’m sure that he’s happily playing tennis in Heaven with Ed Snider right now."