Sitting on the dais with other award winners Monday at the 109th annual Philadelphia Sports Writers Association's banquet in Cherry Hill, Flyers founder Ed Snider dabbed at his eyes as he listened Virlen Reyes' heartfelt words.
Reyes, now a West Chester University ice hockey player, talked about how Snider had "changed my life" by giving her an outlet to play hockey when she was a teenager.
"A little more than five years ago, I faced so many unhealthy obstacles that are typical to many inner-city children _ the violence, drugs, gangs. Honestly, I really didn't have any hope in life," she said. "But everything changed the day I found the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. I'm just one of the many, many children involved…..You've changed our lives positively and proudly."
The PSWA honored Snider, 80, for his humanitarian efforts, and the award will carry his name each year. The foundation has 3,000 inner-city children who play hockey in four rinks that were refurbished from funds donated by Snider, the city and the state.
"It's the only thing I've ever put my name on," Snider said of the youth foundation, "and I really want it to be my legacy."
As for the Flyers' play in the early season, Snider was blunt about the 2-4 team: "We better damn get our special teams straightened out or we're in trouble," he bristled. "That's what it's all about in today's game _ special teams _ because 5 on 5, it's hard as hell to score nowadays."
Entering Monday, the Flyers were 25th out of 30 teams on the power play (12.9 percent success rate) and 26th on the penalty kill with a successful rate of just 69 percent.
The Flyers are in New York Tuesday night to face the Rangers.