After the Flyers’ hard-fought 3-1 win over Colorado on Thursday, Ed Snider’s news conference started as a tribute to the late Keith Allen, and ended with Snider taking verbal jabs at the Olympics in general and Steve Yzerman in particular.
Snider, chairman of the Flyers’ parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, said it was a “very emotional night” because it was the first game since the 90-year-old Allen — who, as general manager, was the architect of the franchise’s 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup champions — died on Tuesday.
“Keith was a dear friend, and I’m just awfully sorry about how his life ended,” Snider said in the Flyers’ locker room. “He went through some tough times over the last several years, but I think he’s in a better place.”
Asked what he meant to the Flyers, Snider talked about how Allen hired the great Fred Shero as their coach and how he never made a bad trade.
“He was this organization,” he said.
The questioning turned to Flyers center Claude Giroux being bypassed — twice — for Team Canada’s Olympic team. Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis was selected Thursday to replace the injured Steven Stamkos.
“It’s a farce,” Snider fumed. “He’s one of the best players in the league. He’s better than half the guys on that (Olympic) team.”
Snider was just getting started.
“Anybody who thinks Claude Giroux doesn’t belong on the Olympic team, they don’t know anything about hockey, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
St. Louis (55 points) and Giroux (56 points) are having similar seasons. St. Louis, 38, figures to be playing in his final Olympics. Giroux is 26, and may not get a chance to play in the Olympics if the NHL stops participating in the future, as has been rumored.
(From here, St. Louis and Giroux BOTH should have made the team ahead of the Rangers' Rick Nash, who has 27 points, but gives Canada size with his 6-4, 216-pound frame.)
Snider took a not-too-veiled verbal shot at Yzerman, the Tampa Bay general manager who serves in the same capacity for Team Canada.
“It’s politics, to a certain degree,” Snider said. “He has to pick his own guy, and his own guy is good, but Claude is better.”
Snider is not a fan of the NHL sending its players to the Games.
“If I had my way, we’d never go to the Olympics,” he said, “We’re the only league that breaks up our season. Basketball plays in the winter, but they play Olympics in the summer. It’s ridiculous. The whole thing is ridiculous.”
Even if the Olympics were in Philadelphia, “I wouldn’t want to break up the league,” Snider added. “I think it’s ridiculous to take three weeks off — or however long it is — in the middle of the season. It screws up everything.”
Asked if he’d like seeing the return of the World Cup in hockey, Snider said, “I’d like to see anything other than the Olympics. I mean, I hate ‘em.”
Snider conceded that the players want to participate in the Olympics, but said “there’s no benefit whatsoever” to the league. “I can only see negatives.”
The 81-year-old Snider was just about done his rant when Inquirer columnist Bob Brookover reminded him that the last time it was an Olympic year, the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010.
“Well, maybe I like it,” he said, drawing loud laughter. “I forgot about that.”
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.