Flames salute Snow’s lasting impact on franchise
Assistant general manager Chris Snow was on everyone’s mind at Calgary Flames practice on Thursday.
Snow, who was promoted to vice-president of hockey operations after Craig Conroy was named general manager in May, went into cardiac arrest on Tuesday. While doctors and paramedics were able to restart his heart, scans showed he suffered a catastrophic brain injury due to a lack of oxygen. On Thursday, his wife, Kelsie, tweeted that tests confirmed Snow would not wake up. He will remain on life support while organ donation is arranged.
Snow was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2019. Despite gradually losing the use of his muscular functions following his diagnosis, he came to work every day as a key part of the Flames front office and worked tirelessly as an advocate for those fighting the disease.
“When you talk about people looking at him as inspiration, I don’t know how you can’t,” head coach Ryan Huska said Thursday at WinSport Arena in Calgary. “Never did he have a bad day, considering what he was going through. And he continued to do his job to the best of his ability every day.
“…Not once did you ever see him feel sorry for himself or what he was going through.”
Huska looked back fondly at how his relationship with Snow evolved over time. When he joined the Flames as an assistant coach in 2018, Huska and Snow would occasionally butt heads over incorporating data into gameplans.
“Originally, I would argue with him about some of the analytics that would come out,” Huska said. “Once you hear his reasoning for things and…the way he worked with analytics, we started to see more closely eye-to-eye, to the point where now I see how important analytics are …whether it’s putting the right lineup on the ice or adjusting some of your systems based on what the numbers and tendencies are showing. Chris was really influential in helping me develop in that regard [of] using analytics more effectively.”
The two became close and collaborated regularly. As an assistant coach to Bill Peters, Geoff Ward, and Darryl Sutter, Huska used Snow’s insights in creating a penalty-kill structure and coaching the team’s blueliners.
Snow sat in on Calgary’s coaching interviews following Sutter’s dismissal last spring.
“I think he was one of my bigger supporters in helping me get this job,” Huska said. “He means a significant amount to me.”
Jonathan Huberdeau, who has played just one full season in Calgary, said Snow made a lasting impression by reaching out to him with positive thoughts when he was struggling offensively.
“Last year when it wasn’t going well, he was texting me,” Huberdeau said. “Every day he’s [fighting] for his life, but he took the time to text me. That shows a lot about the person. He dedicated his life to this team. It’s a sad day for us.”
Defenceman Rasmus Andersson hailed Snow’s toughness and positive attitude.
“Just the way he’s been battling, he never complains. Every time you see him, he has a smile on his face…just a hard worker, loved hockey, loved the Flames,” Andersson said. “He’s the kind of guy you could come to if you wanted to improve your game. He’d be the first in line to help you out and show you the stats you’re good at and what you need to improve on.”
The Flames will rally around Snow and his family as they continue their preseason. Kelsie and their children, Willa and Cohen, were frequently at the Saddledome, loudly cheering on their dad and his team.
“We just want to go out and play for him,” blueliner Noah Hanifin said. “It should definitely motivate us to keep working hard…it was a privilege to have him in the organization and become a friend of his.”