You can’t tell from his expression — the atrophy in his facial muscles, caused by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), prevents him from being able to smile — but these days, Chris Snow has plenty of reasons to be happy.
For one, Calgary is still considered to be among the favourites to win the Stanley Cup, despite Thursday’s 2-0 setback to the Dallas Stars in Game 2.
For another, through his work overseeing the club’s data department, along with other duties as assistant GM, Snow has had a significant impact on the makeup of this vaunted Flames roster.
Lastly, and most importantly, he is still here to see it.
Three years after being given a year to live, Snow will commemorate the occasion this weekend at the team’s hotel in Dallas by going to the fitness centre and working out.
It will be a symbolic moment.
It was in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, after Calgary opened with a split at home against the Colorado Avalanche, and after the team flew to Denver for Games 3 and 4, that the first symptom of ALS set in. At the workout room at the Ritz Carlton, Snow felt weakness in the outer fingers of his right hand and was unable to grasp a five-pound barbell.
He hoped it was maybe a pinched ulnar nerve, or perhaps a pinched nerve in his back that was affecting his hand, but as those possibilities were investigated and subsequently ruled out, concern grew.
“Every time, when this kind of disease runs in your family, if you get a cramp or if something feels off in the slightest, your initial thought is, ‘Oh no, this could be ALS,'” recalls Snow.
Two months later came the diagnosis of ALS, confirming Snow’s worst fear. He had lost his father, two uncles, and a cousin to the disease.