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.
DAN SNYDER MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
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.
Tyler Wong wins Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award
Prior to the 2018-19 regular-season finale at Allstate Arena, the Chicago Wolves presented second-year forward Tyler Wong with the 2019 Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award. Wong earned the honor for his dedication to helping people and causes throughout the Chicago area.
One Wolves player receives the award each season in memory of Snyder, 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 local people and charities. He also scored five game-winning goals during the postseason to help the Wolves capture the 2002 Calder Cup championship.
Wong, a 23-year-old forward from Cochrane, Alberta, joined the Wolves in 2017 with a reputation for eagerly donating his time and energy to multiple causes — he twice won the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Humanitarian of the Year Award — and he has maintained his brisk pace with the Wolves while establishing his professional career.
“I was very blessed growing up to have the opportunity to play hockey,” Wong said. “Not everyone gets that chance. My parents (William and Julie) gave me that opportunity and they instilled in me to be humble and to have perspective on where I am — and how I might be able to help other people.”
Never one to waste free time, Wong has been a leading light at every Wolves charity event in addition to spending hours helping Feed My Starving Children and Bernie’s Book Bank. Wong also has made several visits to local libraries as part of the team’s long-running Read to Succeed program. Not only does his voice carry weight when he extols the virtues of recreational reading and the importance of setting and achieving goals, Wong’s personal story of how he ignored others’ doubts about his 5-foot-9 frame to continue to pursue his hockey dreams makes an impact with the children he meets.
“I love doing the library visits,” Wong said. “I think the kids really like to hear about the books I’m reading and it gives me the opportunity to connect with everyone personally. They can ask questions and they don’t have to be nervous.”
Wong joined a sterling list of Snyder Award honorees that includes Scooter Vaughan (2018), Brett Sterling (2010, 2017), Pat Cannone (2016), Shane Harper (2015), Michael Davies (2013, 2014), Darren Haydar (2012), Spencer Machacek (2011), Jordan Lavallee (2009), Nathan Oystrick (2008), Brian Sipotz (2007), Karl Stewart (2005, 2006) and Kurtis Foster (2004). Vaughan and Foster also received the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award that goes to the AHL’s Man of the Year.