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Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award

19 – Forever in our heart

Dan Snyder (February 23, 1978 – October 5, 2003) was signed by the Atlanta Thrashers as a free agent in 1999. During his time in the minor leagues, he was a member of the International Hockey League champion Orlando Solar Bears in 2000-01 and the American Hockey League champion Chicago Wolves in 2001-02. Called up to the National Hockey League, he contributed 10 goals and four assists in 36 games with the Thrashers in 2002-03.

On September 29, 2003, Snyder was critically injured after the Ferrari 360 Modena driven by his teammate, Dany Heatley, struck a wall along Atlanta’s Lenox Road. Both players were ejected from the car, which was split in half by the force of the impact. Snyder suffered a fractured skull and internal brain injuries due to the rapid acceleration / deceleration incident. He lapsed into a coma following emergency surgery, and died six days later on October 5.

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The Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award is given to the Chicago Wolves player who demonstrates the most outstanding dedication to Chicago-area community service each year.

Snyder was a dedicated member of the Chicago Wolves organization off the ice, making numerous appearances in the community and endearing himself to many of the fans who watched him on the ice and met him outside the arena.  During off-days, Snyder made frequent appearances at local libraries to talk to kids about reading through the Wolves “Read to Succeed” program.  He also visited hospitals and appeared at other community events.  Snyder set an example to be followed by future members of the team.

Snyder was just as dedicated on the ice, serving as team captain of his junior team and excelling through hard work as his career progressed.  He made his NHL debut with the Atlanta Thrashers on April 3, 2001, against the Ottawa Senators before tallying two game-winning goals in the Turner Cup Finals for the Orlando Solar Bears, helping them to a 4-games-to-1 victory over the Chicago Wolves. As a member of the Wolves in 2001-02, Snyder continued to score at crucial times, tying an all-time AHL playoff record with five game-winning goals.  With Snyder’s help, the Wolves took home their first Calder Cup championship.

The Wolves keep Snyder’s memory alive in various ways.  A banner bearing his name hangs permanently from the rafters of the Allstate Arena, while the Wolves continue to raise money for charities associated with him.

Dansk wins Dan Snyder Award

Oscar Dansk was named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Chicago community during the 2019-20 season.

The 26-year-old goaltender from Stockholm, Sweden, also earned the Dan Snyder Award that goes to one Wolves player each season in memory of the former Wolves forward, who passed away on Oct. 5, 2003, at the age of 25 after suffering head injuries in a car accident. During his two seasons with the Wolves, Snyder set the standard for community service with his tireless commitment to Chicagoans and local charities.

Oscar did his utmost to emulate Snyder throughout the 2019-20 season, his third with the organization. In addition to maintaining his tradition of being a positive presence at all Wolves fundraisers and community events, he organized half the team for an outing to Ronald McDonald House in downtown Chicago. Ronald McDonald House provides a place for families to call home so they can stay close to their hospitalized loved ones at no cost. Oscar and the rest of the Wolves not only prepared dinner for all of these families one night, they spent the afternoon engaged with the children – playing basketball, signing autographs, working on their TikTok dance moves and more.

But these experiences paled in comparison to the relationship he built with 17-year-old Angelo, who was in the process of being adopted by Kurt and Denise Daichendt of Norwood Park to make them a family of nine. Oscar and Angelo met February 2020 at Lurie Children’s Hospital, where Angelo underwent frequent treatments to fight bone cancer.

Over the course of a month, Oscar hosted the Daichendt family for two Wolves games — Angelo’s first professional sporting events __  and visited their home twice. On his first visit, they spent hours talking and playing video games and enjoyed a meal together.

“Oscar was just the nicest guy,” Denise said. “I’ve been with Make-A-Wish for 17 or 18 years and I’ve seen a lot of wishes, but he really took such a sincere interest in Angelo and all of us. It was like he was part of the family. He just fit right in. I looked at my husband and said, ‘I think we found our eighth child!’ I couldn’t believe he came to our house. He went above and above and beyond. We had had such a rough few weeks and it was a great break. He really, really brought a lot of joy for us. We just love him to death.”

Oscar walked out of their home feeling incredibly fortunate.

“Their family certainly inspires me because they’ve done so much and gone through so much that I haven’t,” Oscar said. “It inspires me to look at things differently – but also to help people that deserve it. Their family, we haven’t hung out that much, but they’ve spread so much joy and kindness to me that it certainly makes me feel like I can do that as well.”

Their relationship inspired Angelo as well.

“I can’t describe how much this lifted his spirits,” Denise said. “He hasn’t been wanting to do therapy because it’s painful. But he’s been telling me, ‘I’m going to do therapy now! I want to do it!”

Dansk was one of 31 finalists for the AHL’s 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, which honors the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league’s award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League at a later date.

Previous Winners