Fifty years from the day the Flyers played their first home game at the beloved Spectrum, they unveiled a nine-foot bronze statue Thursday afternoon of the late Ed Snider outside the Wells Fargo Center, and his daughter, Lindy, asked everyone to start a tradition and rub the Stanley Cup ring he was depicted wearing because it would bring the team good luck.
"The greatest feeling was when I touched the ring," Hall of Fame goalie Bernie Parent said a few minutes after Lindy Snider's speech before about 700 onlookers. "I felt the power."
After heartfelt speeches by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman; Flyers president Paul Holmgren; Mayor Kenney; Dave Scott, the Comcast Spectacor president; Snider's daughter; and public-address announcer Lou Nolan, people filed by the statue and took turns rubbing the ring. Holmgren and Snider started the process.
Snider called the ceremony "bittersweet" and added it was "hard to believe that Dad isn't with us."
The Flyers chairman died April 11, 2016, at age 83, after a long battle with bladder cancer.
In the first year after his death, Lindy Snider said, she and family members found it almost painful to be at the Wells Fargo Center and revealed she avoided going there for a while. "The Flyers and this building are so deeply a part of our lives and our families, and to come here still actually brought on a sense of grieving," she said. "But now, I think the time for grieving has passed, and perhaps the sculpture installation marks a new beginning."
She said the statue, which was created by Chad Fisher, was comforting and "there's no doubt in my mind he's been watching over us, and Paul, especially you. He wants a Stanley Cup. And the pressure's on you. You're not off the hook."
Scott and Bettman said not a day goes by when they don't think of Snider.
"What a passion he had for winning, whether was in sports or in business," Scott said.
"When I think about Ed, first and foremost I think about the passion he had for Philadelphia, for the Flyers, for hockey, and for the vision he had," Bettman said. "Whatever he worked on, he was all in."
Added Bettman: "He got things done and he was extraordinarily competitive. He probably wanted to achieve in his lifetime yet another Stanley Cup for the Flyers and for all the great fans in Philadelphia, and I think if he had one disappointment, that was probably it."
Bettman called Snider a "consummate ball of energy, a man who was constantly in motion, and it'll be a great tribute to him and all he accomplished that his imagery will stand here with us forever."
Bettman closed his speech by telling his audience: "Ed, we all miss you, we all love you, but we all remember you."
Lindy Snider said the statue made it "heartening for us to know that the next generation can see where this place and this team actually came from."
Kenney thanked Snider for bringing the Flyers to Philadelphia in 1967. "My friends and I still talk about where we were in 1974 and 1975 with the Cup," he said.
When he was growing up, Kenney said, he and many of his friends lived on Second Street, which at the time didn't get Prism, the network that televised games at the time. "So we had to go on the other side of Broad Street to McCusker's bar to watch the Flyers play; it's been part of my life ever since they came here."
Kenney lauded the Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and said that because of such programs, "Philadelphia's crime rate in the lowest it's been in 40 years."
Holmgren said Snider "loved his team, he loved this city. And speaking as a player and an alumni [member] and staff member, we loved him back."
About 30 former players, representing every decade of Flyers hockey, attended the ceremony "and that speaks of the impact Mr. Snider has had on us as players," Holmgren said.
He also had an effect on the current players.