On Wednesday, ABC sitcom The Goldbergs will pay special tribute to Ed Snider, the Flyers cofounder who passed away last month at the age of 83. The Flyers provided The Goldbergs with rare footage of Snider that will air at the end of Wednesday's episode.
"If you love the Flyers, Ed Snider is the Flyers. He's the organization," The Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg said on the phone from Los Angeles.
The Flyers and the culture of hockey in Philadelphia are intrinsically woven into the fabric of The Goldbergs, a 1980s-set comedy about a Jenkintown family seen through the eyes of the youngest son. He has a penchant for filmmaking, much like Goldberg, who based the show on his own life.
The Snider tribute happens to coincide with a Flyers-themed episode.
In "Big Orange," the favorite Flyers shirt of middle Goldberg Barry (Troy Gentile) is destroyed by his mother (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and girlfriend (AJ Michalka). (Goldberg referred to this act as "shirt murder.") When Barry figures out the shirt is missing, he's devastated.
"My brother did this; he wore his favorite Flyers shirt every day it was out of the wash," Goldberg said. "It got so worn, you could poke a hole in it. . . . The episode is ultimately about letting go of a piece of your childhood that you love."
So much of The Goldbergs is pulled from Goldberg's own experience growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs - each episode ends with a home movie Goldberg shot when he was kid, often mirroring the preceding episode - that it only makes sense that Flyers fandom has become a character trait on the show. A first-season episode, for instance, referred to Ron Hextall's legendary first goal.
"We had season tickets and I'd go with my dad," Goldberg said. "Putting the team aside, it was about going and seeing my dad get on his feet, because he lived his life in his chair. I look at going to the old Spectrum. It was a beat-up and banged-up space, but it was my childhood."
The Goldbergs has featured the Flyers heavily since the sitcom began in 2013. Goldberg noted that major-league sports teams tend to be stingy with their intellectual property - such as their logos - but the Flyers have been easy to work with.
It helps that Goldberg used to play hockey (badly) for Ike Richman, vice president of public relations for Comcast Spectacor, on Old York Road when Goldberg was a kid.
"He was so bad at skating," Richman said about Goldberg's hockey skills. "We made him push a wooden chair around the ice so that he wouldn't fall. It was a way of teaching him how to skate. Thank goodness he had a stick to lean on during a game. He was like a tripod out there on the ice. I don't think he moved once he got on the ice in a game situation.
"It's great to see a kid live out his dreams and achieve greatness like Adam has," Richman continued. "Who knew a kid like that would be able to turn his real life into a real-life sitcom?"
Wednesday, Goldberg gets to say thank you to a guy who had such a big impact on his real life, and his sitcom life.
"There's been a lot of remembering Ed Snider this year, and people writing about him. I never knew the guy, but he's a legend," Goldberg said. "I'm really proud that I'm honoring him in my own way. His team is a large part of my childhood, and I'm so happy I can honor him."