Thursday, October 8, 2015

Jan Snyder....One of Hockey's Greatest Gifts

Jan Snyder
It was one year ago today that hockey writer, Jan Snyder passed away. Tonight, Jan's hometown team, the Pittsburgh Penguins begin their season on the road in Dallas, and I can imagine Jan's spirit will be right their with them, helping to kick off this year's quest for the Stanley Cup.

My friendship with Jan was a double blessing. I cherish all the fun we had sharing our passion for this great game. Plus, I was so fortunate when she jumped on board to become a contributing  writer for my website, For over six years, Jan brilliantly covered all things Penguins, along with conducting some fascinating interviews with a variety of hockey celebrities. She was a consummate professional, teaching me so much about EVERYTHING.

Jan was my fabulous, long distance hockey friend. We spent countless hours talking on the phone: with me in Vancouver, Canada and Jan in Houston,Texas, our conversations drifting from hockey to life in general and back again. We actually only met in person, twice...

What an awesome coincidence that she had a conference in Vancouver exactly one day before the Canucks were to play Game Seven against the Dallas Stars during the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and I had tickets. That was a loud and crazy night in Rogers Arena, but I do remember Jan yelling, "I've never been to a Game Seven of Anything!!!" With so much hockey/sports in her life, I had a hard time believing that!

Our second meeting took place about six months later. I took the above photo of Jan while we were shopping for Pens merchandise in Pittsburgh when I was appearing at a Hockey and Heels event with the Pittsburgh Penguins. She flew in to support me at the event, graciously showed me around the city, and I was also lucky that she introduced me to her wonderful sister, Kim, daughter, Jen and son- in-law, Jim. What a terrific family!

From right: Jan, Jen and Jim
Even though Jan was a displaced Pittsburgh-er living in Houston, she always managed to fly home to catch the big games with her family whenever she could, including the Winter Classic at Heinz Field. Of course, once little grandson, Ethan was born, she had an even better reason to fly home!

She didn't limit her hockey travels to Pittsburgh: Jan traveled to several NHL All Star games over the years and even braved the elements in 2003 at the historic Heritage Classic outdoor game in Edmonton, Alberta. She was my hockey hero.

I still can't believe she is gone. I get choked up from time to time thinking about her. If I ever I was going through a tough time, Jan was always just a warm, comforting phone call away. She always had the most encouraging words no matter what the situation. I am always going to miss you Jan.

The Pens and Stars game is about to start, so, I should sign off and put on my Penguins shirt. Jan's sister, Kim emailed suggesting all friends and family don the Black and Gold today to celebrate our dear, Jan.

She truly is one of hockey's greatest gifts.

Go Pens, Go Jan!!

- Lisa O 

Lisa and Jan at the Igloo, Nov.2007