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Ed Snider was our grandfather, and his loss is personal for every Flyers fan

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Ed Snider may not have been our blood relative, but he's the patriarch of the Philadelphia Flyers. He taught us our love for hockey and gave us a life long gift. We all owe him so much.

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As I think about the passing of Flyers owner Ed Snider, I can't help but think about my own life. I can't help but think about all of our lives.

I think about my dad, a kid from Millville who was born five years before Mr. Snider brought the Flyers to Philadelphia. He didn't know what hockey was until the Flyers showed up, but like hundreds of thousands of others in this area, he was indoctrinated into the cult of hockey thanks to a man with a vision and his Broad Street Bullies.

I think about how his passion for the game and the Flyers was passed down to me. I think about all the nights as a kid spent sitting in front of the TV watching games. I think about how it's led to my own life as a hockey writer -- a life that would be dramatically different if Mr. Snider never brought our city a hockey team. I wouldn't have my job, but more importantly I wouldn't have at least half of the friends or relationships that I cherish today. When you spend your entire day talking about hockey on the Internet and most of your nights watching hockey on TV or in a rink, it's inevitable that your life and your relationships with other people revolve around the sport. I wouldn't have it any other way. It's a blessing -- one that I wouldn't have had the chance to experience without Ed Snider.

I think about how I learned the news of his passing this morning from my girlfriend, a Cherry Hill kid who is one of the many I've met through this wonderful sport and team. I would not have met her without the Flyers bringing us together. Today she works for an NHL team -- a rival team, in fact. It's something that she can credit to the Mr. Snider's Flyers teaching her the love of the game and it's proof that his legacy goes far beyond just one city.

I think about what I've learned about the man in my professional capacity -- mostly through the words of colleagues and players and other Important People in the sport talking about just how revered he is. It comes in the form of stories and anecdotes and memories, which we all have and will surely all share in the coming hours and days. But the thing I've learned most about Mr. Snider, aside from his impressive career as a businessman and his unmatched passion for his team, is just how dedicated he was to growing the game and helping others through philanthropy and community outreach.

Yes, Mr. Snider brought hockey to Philadelphia. He brought us the Flyers and the Spectrum and the Wells Fargo Center and PRISM and WIP and Comcast SportsNet. But the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation may turn out to be the most important part of his legacy.

Over the last decade, the ESYHF has introduced thousands of inner-city kids to the sport of hockey, and to a love of the Flyers. Mr. Snider has constructed hockey rinks and he's given kids who otherwise would never have the chance to learn the game the opportunity that, in many ways, could and has changed their lives. It's the timeline he set in motion 50 years ago for all of us, giving us one of the most cherished things in our lives. And he spent the last 10 years of his life making sure that even more people could learn that same love. It will surely continue well into the future. We can't even count how many lives this man changed, because his work isn't done even now that he's gone.

He spent the last 50 years of his life with an unbridled passion for Philadelphia and the Flyers. Every time we cheer for a Flyers win or sulk in a Flyers loss or yell at an official or hey, even when we chant obscenities at a rival player, we've been doing it right along with him. He has been our patriarch, he has been the one who taught us all the passion for this game that means so much to us -- from the construction of the Spectrum, to the Stanley Cup years, to the win against the Soviet Red Army team, to the great teams of the 1980s, to the Lindros Era, to the Snider Hockey Foundation, to today, and to tomorrow.

It feels like we lost a grandfather today. That's because in many ways, he was exactly that to all of us. He may not have been a blood relative, but he's given us more than most other people in our lives. Rest in peace, Mr. Snider, and thank you for everything.