Snider: 'I hate' the Olympics

Posted: February 07, 2014

FLYERS CHAIRMAN Ed Snider came down to talk to reporters after the game. He came to say a few kind words about the late Keith Allen, the architect of all of the franchise's early successes, words to accompany the nice tribute that the team staged before the game for Allen, who died Tuesday at the age of 90.

Then Ed stayed around to chat.

And it was like the old days.

The target this night was the Olympics, and pretty much everything touched by those five interlocking rings. Snider could not have been more plain.

The Olympics?

"I mean, I hate 'em," the chairman said.

What started the conversation was a question about how the Canadian Olympic team managed to leave Claude Giroux off its roster. Another chance to add him was missed yesterday morning when the injured Steven Stamkos was replaced by Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis. The decision was ultimately made by Canada's general manager, Steve Yzerman, who also is Tampa Bay's general manager.

Giroux, who was been classy through his disappointment, was classy again after the latest snub. Snider, though, was plainly furious.

How furious?

"It's a farce," Snider said. "He's one of the best players in the league. It's ridiculous. He's better than half the guys on that team."

The odds depend on where you do your Winter Olympics gambling - and, really, there isn't a whole lot of reason to watch unless you've put down a few bob on the bobsled, right? - but the way they have the hockey tournament figured, Canada is the slight favorite, followed in order by Russia, Sweden and the United States.

Those are the big four. The Flyers have zero players on any of their rosters, zero as in none. They have five Olympians overall - Mark Streit for Switzerland, Jakub Voracek for the Czech Republic, Michael Raffl for Austria, Kimmo Timonen for Finland and Andrej Meszaros for Slovakia - but none will play for a medal favorite.

It says something about what the world thinks about the Flyers' players as individuals.

"There's a lot of good players to pick from," Snider said. "I'm proud of the five guys that are on the Olympic teams. They may not be great teams but they're great players and they're in the Olympics.

"We don't pick 'em. But anybody that thinks that Claude Giroux doesn't belong on the Canadian team, they don't know anything about hockey, as far as I'm concerned. It's politics, to a certain degree. He had to pick his own guy - and his own guy is good. But Claude's better."

That conversation, about one specific player, quickly morphed into a much wider conversation about the NHL's participation in the Olympics. To repeat: Snider hates it. The NHL originally agreed to get involved, and shut down its season every 4 years, because the players wanted to do it and because the league was hoping for some kind of a payoff from the network exposure.

The payoff never happened. NBC does not show a lot of hockey in prime time, so what's the point? Snider has seen enough.

"Basketball plays in the winter but they play Olympics in the summer," he said. "It's ridiculous. The whole thing is ridiculous."

Asked if he felt the problem was worse when the Games are so many time zones away, Snider said, "I don't care if it was in Philadelphia, I wouldn't want to break up the league [season]. I think it's ridiculous to take 3 weeks off, or however long it is, in the middle of the season. It screws up everything."

Snider said he does not know if a majority of NHL owners agree with him. He said, "I don't know. I haven't taken a poll. But how could anybody be happy breaking up your season? No other league does it. Why should we?

"There's no benefit to us whatsoever. If anything, I can only see negatives. The players want to play. The players association has a lot to say about it. As an owner, I think it's ridiculous . . . I personally don't like it. It's not good for our fans. It's not good for our league. It changes the momentum. Everything about it is wrong."

And this year, it will derail what might be the best stretch of games the Flyers have played all season. The truth is, they have been a very good team for the last 3 months. But in the last five games, they have played consistently excellent team hockey against very strong competition and collected eight out of 10 points.

So, with one game remaining before the break, Snider sees no good here at all - that is, until someone reminded him that the Flyers made it to overtime of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals the last time the NHL broke for the Olympics.

At which point, Snider laughed as loud as everyone around him and said, "Maybe I like it. I forgot about that."


On Twitter: @theidlerich


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