Assuming that e-mails, letters and voice-mail messages have some value, it's fair to surmise that Ed Snider isn't Mr. Popularity in these parts.

If his dismissive ways don't turn you off, perhaps it's the way he saunters around, appearing as if he has all the answers - with absolutely no championship hardware since the days when his hair was still brown. But if these Flyers pull off the unthinkable, recapturing a Stanley Cup once given to Philadelphia in a double dose 35 years ago, the fans can feel free to scream "We did it" all summer long. As long as they pause for a moment to pay homage to the man who made it happen.

The Flyers would not be in the playoffs if Snider did not get them there. Scratch any dreams about a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, too. Had it not been for the man cutting the checks, this season of miracles - from making the playoffs in a shoot-out in the regular-season finale to overcoming a three-games-to-none deficit to Boston - would have fallen far short of euphoria.

"This is . . . maybe the most exciting season ever since the first Stanley Cup," Snider told reporters after his Flyers clinched a berth in the Finals. "What these guys have done, what they've been through, I mean, it's just incredible."

What the team chairman didn't say is that these Flyers aren't typical players. You don't find them measuring themselves by individual statistics. It takes a special ability to measure the size of someone's heart, someone's commitment, to know when they have that extra something it takes.

For years, we've doubted whether Snider had a clue about the ingredients to winning. We simply can't anymore.

"It's hard to doubt anything with Ed Snider and what he commits himself to, but especially now with this team," said Peter Luukko, Snider's right-hand man and Comcast-Spectacor's chief operating officer. "Ed wants to win at everything he does. He wants it so badly, as always. But I don't think it's far-fetched to say that at this point in his career, this would be the achievement of a lifetime.

"It's not about the Flyers. It's about this team. I've known Ed Snider since 1986, so I know. The fact that [the Flyers] never gave up, never once folded, says something to us all. That down-but-never-out mentality is what makes this moment so special. It's a surreal ride and Ed couldn't be happier. And I don't know who in the world could blame him for that."

Let's face it: Few of us believed the Flyers would be in this position.

It didn't matter that the Flyers had bolstered their defense by acquiring Chris Pronger from Anaheim; they had to surrender first-round picks in 2009 and 2010 and a conditional third-rounder, plus they gave up a 20-plus-goal scorer in Joffrey Lupul.

Injuries? We knew they'd come, too. Goalie Ray Emery ended up sidelined for the season.

It was surprising, however, when Emery went down and the Flyers kept going. Then Michael Leighton got hurt, too, and they kept going. When goalie Brian Boucher was injured, Leighton was able to return for Game 5 of the conference semifinals.

The Flyers have suited up seven goalies this season. They've lost stars Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter in the playoffs, only to watch Gagne come back in Game 4 from that 3-0 hole vs. Boston and score the winning goal in overtime to keep their season alive. Two more would come in Game 5, then the game-winner in Game 7 to make history.

The Flyers even witnessed the most gruesome of injuries - a brain bruise, courtesy of a puck to the face - suffered by winger Ian Laperriere, only to watch him miraculously return during the conference finals. They've witnessed moments of greatness from Mike Richards, more moments of ferocious play from the likes of Scott Hartnell. And all the while, getting beaten and battered, staggering to the verge of extinction, they somehow manage to keep getting up, keep swinging, and are still standing when the buzzer sounds.

"That comes from somewhere," Luukko said with pride.

Luukko never said from whom. Perhaps we all should all know by now.

Contact columnist Stephen A. Smith at 215-854-5846 or sasmith@phillynews.com.