Calgary Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow died on Saturday of a "severe brain injury" following a cardiac arrest he had suffered earlier this week, his wife announced. He was 42. Snow was told that he had a year to live following his ALS diagnosis in 2019 but remarkably surpassed those expectations before passing away on Saturday.
Snow had earlier lost his own father, two uncles, and a cousin to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, prior to his own battle with the condition.
End of a Complicated Battle
"Today we hugged Chris for the last time and said goodbye as he went to give four people the gift of life by donating his kidneys, liver and lungs," Kelsie Snow posted on X.
"We are deeply broken and deeply proud. In life and in death, Chris never stopped giving. We walk forward with his light guiding us."
Snow has been on life support since 2019 following his cardiac arrest.
Snow was a sports journalist before transitioning into NHL front offices. He covered the Minnesota Wild for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Boston Red Sox for the Boston Globe.
Later, he held the position of director of hockey operations for the Wild for four years.
In 2011, he joined the Calgary Flames as the director of video and statistical analysis. His dedication and expertise led to his promotion to assistant general manager in 2019.
After Snow was diagnosed with ALS, his wife, Kelsie wrote: "Someone has to be the first person to live with ALS rather than die from it, and one thing I've always known about Chris is that he finds a way."
"No matter the obstacle, no matter how unprecedented the situation may be — he always, always finds a way."
His wife said that Snow had entered a clinical trial for an experimental gene therapy. The therapy eventually obtained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Tributes Pour In
The new Flames coach, Ryan Huska, said that Snow played a major role in helping him secure the coaching position. He also emphasized the value he placed on the analytics and insights provided by Snow, which greatly contributed to enhancing the team's performance.
"Not once did you ever see him feel sorry for himself for what he was going through," Huska told reporters. "And I think when you talk about people looking at him as an inspiration, I don't know how you can't because never did he have a bad day considering the stuff he was going through and he continued to do his job to the best of his ability every day."
Snow's wife Kelsie, a former sportswriter, shared updates about her husband's journey with ALS within the hockey community through various social media posts and her blog.
Despite the challenges they faced, including raising two children, the couple chose to keep Chris's illness public to bring attention to ALS and drive fundraising efforts for research into this debilitating disease.
On Mother's Day in 2021, Snow penned a heartfelt and public letter to his wife, which was published by The Athletic.
"I haven't always wanted to know every detail about my disease and the science behind the medicine. Better to have a confident mind, I've thought. You've filled that gap. You read everything, ask every question and regularly text with our most knowledgeable physician," he wrote.
"You routinely finish the sentences of neurologists who have studied ALS pathology for decades. Meetings with nutritionists and therapists end early because there is little they can tell us that you don't already know. One neurologist told us, 'You two are what I call super patients.' He was talking to you."