Remembering Calgary Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow
Photo credit:courtesy Calgary Flames
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
The Calgary sports community, and the broader hockey community, is facing some very sad news, as Calgary Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow passed away on Saturday after a lengthy, courageous battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Snow was 42 years old.
Snow’s wife Kelsie confirmed his passing on Saturday on social media.
Originally from Melrose, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, Snow attended Syracuse University, graduating in 2003 with degrees in journalism and policy studies. He took advantage of his journalism credentials, earning a role covering the Minnesota Wild for the Minnesota Star Tribune. During the 2004-05 NHL lockout he switched sports, beats and cities, moving to Boston to cover the Red Sox for the Boston Globe.
While in Minnesota, Snow’s enthusiasm and intellect caught the eye of Wild general manager Doug Risebrough, who stayed in touch with him and eventually recruited Snow into his hockey operations department in 2006. Snow spent four seasons as the director of hockey operations before departing the Wild in 2010 shortly after a managerial change-over within the Wild organization.
Snow joined the Flames in 2011, first as a consultant to help the club integrate the PUCKS data and video system into their hockey operations apparatus, but soon after he was hired as the club’s director of statistical and video analysis by then-general manager Jay Feaster. His job title was later modified first to director of hockey analytics and later to director of hockey analysis. He was named assistant general manager in 2019, and added a vice-president data/analytics title in 2023.
In Snow’s variously-named role, his duties were pretty clear: build out and modernize the hockey club’s data apparatus to support hockey operations decision-making across the organization. While originally that was the integration of the PUCKS system into the existing infrastructure in amateur and pro scouting (and the existing analytical practices that were already in place), it gradually expanded to provide support on contract negotiations and salary arbitration cases. If the hockey ops people wanted to do something and wanted data to inform their decisions, Snow’s group provided that data. In this sense, Snow’s work building out the data team and systems was among the most impactful of anybody’s in the franchise in recent memory.
Snow’s family unfortunately has a history of a specific variant of ALS – his father, two uncles and a cousin passed away due to the disease – and he was diagnosed with ALS in June 2019 and given a grim prognosis. However, he enrolled in a clinical trial of a new treatment for the disease, which slowed its progression considerably. Snow and his family – including his wife Kelsie and their two children – became very prominent and tireless advocates for ALS research, and they became a beacon of hope for anybody suffering with the disease. Originally told by doctors that he would succumb to the disease in around 12 months, Snow ended up living with ALS for over four years.
I began covering the Flames midway through the 2010-11 season, shortly before Chris’ arrival, and he and I frequently crossed paths around the rink. Sometimes he was somebody I could bounce a question off of regarding the salary cap or a league rule. Sometimes we just chatted about whatever book either of us was reading or something happening in the sports world. Regardless, Chris was always game to chat and catch up for awhile. Some smart people try to get everybody around them to know how smart they are; Chris was a smart person who was supremely humble, engaging, friendly and curious about everything around him, and that made him somebody that was a pleasure and a privilege to know.
Chris left the Flames organization in a better place than he found it, and leaves a profound positive impact on all those who knew him. If we’re all judged by how we react when times get tough, few could have faced the toughest parts of life with as much grace, dignity and courageousness as Chris (and his family) have. Our profound condolences are with Chris’s family, friends and all that knew him.
In Chris’ memory, please consider contributing to ALS research at SnowyStrong.ca or to the ongoing GoFundMe campaign to help out the Snow family.
Recent articles from Ryan Pike