The Elmira Sugar Kings will celebrate the decades-long contributions of Jeff Snyder in a special ceremony Sunday. Appropriately, they’ll be playing Stratford, the team’s second-round opponent in the Midwestern Conference semi-finals that got underway Wednesday night.
“I found it kind of fitting that they’re playing Stratford, because my most distinct memories have come from the fact we’ve had some great playoff series against Stratford in the years I was involved. It’s just been a great, great rivalry,” said Snyder.
A former player who joined the Kings in 1979, Snyder went on to serve as general manager and head coach of the team, leading the Kings to their first Sutherland Cup victory in 1997. In a second stint with the team, he served as director of hockey operations before retiring last year.
Plans to fete Snyder have been in the works for a while, hampered by the pandemic protocols, said Scott Basler, a vice-president with the organization.
“It’s been a while in the making. We finally found a date that works for everybody, some of the past alumni and, obviously, Jeff and family. It’s something we’ve had planned for a while,” he said, noting that few people have made as big a contribution to the organization, which recently marked its 50th anniversary.
“Through the 50 years, there have been lots of people that have played a prominent role in the success of the team, but when you when you look at his [contributions], his name is obviously at the top or very close to the top of the list,” he added of Snyder.
There’ll be a banner-raising ceremony on Sunday afternoon, with a few words from the recipient.
For his part, Snyder credits the organization and its people for the successes he had with the team, adding it’s a nice honour from his hometown club.
“I grew up here, and my brother (Graham Snyder) was on the original Sugar Kings team. I grew up watching them and then I played myself. Then to go on to manage that for a long run with the team, it’s been a great, great ride,” he said, adding he had no regrets about finally shifting into retirement.
“When I told them I was leaving, I was really comfortable with the fact that we had good people in place to take over. And that’s proved to be true – pretty seamless. They’ve done a great job of keeping things going and we’ve been lucky that we had those people in place. Hopefully, good things will keep going,” said Snyder, noting the team’s first-place finish this year in the conference.
“We still do things the Jeff Snyder way, the right way he always did it, and it’s kind of a way that we’re going to continue on because he set the bar so high for everyone,” said Basler.
The ceremony is set for game three Sunday afternoon at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.