April 14, 2024
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Chris Snow: The Former NHL Executive Who Died Because Of ALS

Chris Snow

Chris Snow was a former sports journalist who made a career switch and became a successful National Hockey League (NHL) executive later on. Unfortunately, Chris Snow developed the dreaded Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) which eventually claimed his life. As a result of Chris Snow’s condition, the NHL started being actively involved in its campaign against ALS.

Here Is A Brief Look At Chris Snow And His Battle With ALS

Chris Snow’s struggle with ALS affected the hockey world

For several years, the story of Chris Snow has touched the hockey world. The former journalist (who also cut his teeth covering baseball) had become an executive in the NHL, starting with the Minnesota Wild and joining the Calgary Flames in 2010-11.

ALS is a dangerous autoimmune disease

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or “ALS” is a progressive and fatal neuromuscular pathology characterized by the progressive death of motor neurons, neurons that control, among other things, walking, speaking, swallowing, and breathing. This loss of motor neurons leads to muscle atrophy and progressive paralysis in patients. This caused Chris Snow’s eventual death.

ALS is the most common motor neuron disease in adults

There are two types of motor neurons:

Central motor neurons

They are located in a particular region of our brain, the motor cortex, and transmit contraction orders to the spinal cord.

Peripheral motor neurons

They are located in the spinal cord and transmit motor information to the muscles.

The degeneration of these 2 types of motor neurons during ALS leads to the loss of the transmission of information between the brain and the voluntary muscles which are therefore no longer used, do not contract, and atrophy. This had led Chris Snow to an almost paralytic state.

Motor neuron damage can sometimes be associated with a loss of neurons in the characteristic frontal and temporal regions of the brain, which can lead to cognitive and behavioral disorders of varying intensity. 

In its most severe form, this leads to frontotemporal dementia (FTD): 15% of patients with ALS also have FTD. Dementia in FTD is not characterized, as in Alzheimer’s disease, by memory disorders, but by behavioral changes that come to the fore. This results in changes in the social and personality behaviors of patients.

ALS is usually hereditary

For 1 in 10 patients, the origin of the disease is due to hereditary genetic mutations, we are talking about familial cases. Chris Snow’s case was also similar

ALS has extremely painful symptoms

The symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS are characterized by complete paralysis of the muscles of the arms, legs, and the region of the mouth and tongue, as well as the respiratory muscles. This leads to an inability to use one’s arms, walk, eat, speak, and breathing difficulties which gradually set in. 

This disease begins in adulthood and will progress, on average over 3 to 5 years, towards complete paralysis of the muscles and ultimately lead to the death of the patient, generally from respiratory failure. Depending on the location of the motor neurons affected: the cortical neurons, the brain stem and/or the spinal cord, the symptoms presented may vary between different patients, particularly at the start of the disease.

Chris Snow lived longer than the doctor’s expected

On the other hand, for four years, Snow had unfortunately been suffering from ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”. We are talking here about a neurodegenerative disease which, in just a few months, can destroy all of an individual’s motor neurons.

But despite everything, Snow continued to fight. While doctors only gave him a year to live, he went on to survive for four years after his diagnosis (and he was still employed by the Flames as an assistant GM).

Unfortunately, he suffered a cardiac arrest from which he failed to recover. He was kept alive to allow him to donate his organs and contribute to science to advance research into the disease, but he never came back to life. Chris Snow passed away on September 30, 2023. He was 42 years old. Chris Jones left three family members behind, his wife Kelsie, daughter Willa and son Cohen.

Chris Snow’s ALS resulted in a crowdfunding campaign

There was a huge outpouring of solidarity from the hockey world and the baseball world after Chris Snow’s ALS diagnosis. A family friend, Maya Shankar, launched a crowdfunding campaign to help the Snows through this difficult ordeal, and more than US$113,000 was raised quickly.

Chris Snow’s crowdfunding campaign received a donation from an NHL star

And among the biggest donors, we find the name of Nick Suzuki. The Canadiens captain made a $1,000 donation, even though he never crossed paths with Snow during his playing career.

He really wears his heart on his sleeve, having also made a huge donation of $10,000 to the Breakfast Club previously.

A lot of big names from the hockey world donated to Chris Snow’s crowdfunding campaign

And in addition to Suzuki, we note that a ton of people in the hockey world got involved: the Players’ Association ($5,000), the Journalists’ Association ($1,000), Adam Fox ($1,000), Émilie Castonguay ($500), Mike Commodore ($500) and so on: more than 1,600 donations have been made to date. Connor Bedard also donated $500. Nice gesture from the young man.

A lot of people in the baseball world also took the time to donate a little money: Jon Morosi, Jack Curry, and many others wanted to help one of their former colleagues.

Chris Snow’s fight against ALS was inspirational

One thing is clear, in any case: Chris Snow would have impacted a ton of people during his lifetime and his fight would have been most inspiring. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expressed his condolences via a statement: “The National Hockey League family is deeply saddened by the passing of Calgary Flames Assistant General Manager Chris Snow, a remarkable man whose courageous and relentless battle with ALS has been an inspiration to so many.”

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