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Flames assistant GM Chris Snow dies from ALS complications

Chris Snow, an assistant general manager for the Calgary Flames, throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

Calgary Flames vice-president of data and analytics and assistant general manager Chris Snow has died of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Snow, 42, was diagnosed in 2019 with ALS, which is a progressive nervous system disease affecting brain cells and the spinal cord, and causes a loss of muscle control.

Chris's wife Kelsie confirmed Snow's death on Saturday.

Snow's father, two uncles and a cousin also died of what's also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. 

Gehrig, a New York Yankee, was diagnosed with it at age 36 and died in 1941.

Snow's wife Kelsie poignantly chronicled their family's journey with Chris's disease via her podcast "Sorry, I'm sad", her blog and social media accounts.

The couple met when they were both sportswriters for The Boston Globe in Chris's hometown. They were married in 2007 and have two children, Cohen and Willa.

Chris was a baseball writer when the NHL's Minnesota Wild hired him as their director of hockey operations in 2006.

When the Wild made organizational changes, the Flames brought Chris on board in 2011 as director of hockey analysis. He was promoted to assistant general manager in 2019 and worked primarily in data and video analysis.

Chris continued to work for the Flames after his diagnosis. He participated in clinical trials that involved a spinal injection every four weeks and lived well beyond the 12-month prognosis he was given.

"Not once did you ever see him feel sorry for himself for what he was going through," Flames head coach Ryan Huska said.

"He continued to do his job to the best of his ability every day."

The Calgary Flames Foundation has raised almost $600,000 for ALS research in a "Snowy Strong" campaign.

Chris, Kelsie and Cohen received their Canadian citizenship in 2022. Willa was born in Calgary.

The Flames promoted Chris to vice-president of data and analytics in May.

He wrote in a Twitter post in June "I may be diminished, but I am not sick, and I am not deterred. Into Year 5 I go. As we say in our family — Improvise and overcome."

ALS weakened his muscles and hampered his ability to speak and eat.

Kelsie wrote in a social-media post Sept. 27 that her husband became unresponsive and suffered cardiac arrest the previous day.

He'd suffered a brain injury due to lack of oxygen and would not recover, she wrote. His organs were donated.

"In life, Chris offered his body to a clinical trial to help others. In death he will do the same," his wife wrote. "We are so proud of him."

An estimated 3,000 Canadians live with ALS and approximately 1,000 die from the disease each year, according to ALS Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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