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Calgary assistant GM Snow, former Star Tribune writer, diagnosed with ALS

Chris Snow, an assistant general manager for the Calgary Flames who started his hockey career as the Wild beat writer for the Star Tribune, has been diagnosed with ALS.

Snow's wife, Kelsie, posted a letter on NHL.com detailing the diagnosis and treatment. ALS claimed the lives of Snow's father and two paternal uncles, she wrote.

Chris Snow, 38, covered the Wild for the Star Tribune in 2003-04 before taking the Red Sox beat at the Boston Globe. In 2006, he left journalism to become the Wild's director of hockey operations under General Manager Doug Risebrough, a role he filled until 2010. He joined the Flames working as a scout and in analytics and was promoted to assistant GM earlier this year.

 

 

Kelsie Smith Snow is a former sportswriter who covered the Twins for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Snows have two young children. (photo courtesy Calgary Flames)

Here is the text of Kelsie Snow's posting on the Flames website:

Dear Hockey Family,

I'm here to share news we prayed so hard we'd never have. 

Chris has been diagnosed with ALS. 

ALS is a horrible disease, and when we went to Miami to see one of the best ALS doctors and researchers out there, we prayed hard. We believe there are miracles in the world and maybe, maybe we would get one. 

And we did, just not the one we'd hoped for. 

In the same breath as the doctor telling us that Chris was in the early stages of ALS, he also gave us hope. The next step, he said, was to enroll Chris in a clinical trial for the most encouraging ALS gene therapy treatment to come along. The drug targets a specific genetic mutation that has devastated Chris' family. Just over one year ago Chris' dad passed away from ALS. We have also lost both of Chris' paternal uncles and his 28-year-old cousin to this disease.

In the simplest terms, this drug works by silencing the effects of the mutated gene, and in Miami we could see how hopeful the doctor felt. So hopeful that when I asked if he believes this drug could stop progression entirely, he said, "We don't know, but it's not outside the realm of possibility."

And so we are leaning into that possibility, as hard as we can, working to stay positive and living with intention every single day. And now we believe we have results to lean into as well. 

Chris has been in the trial for several months, and while we do not know whether he is on the actual drug or a placebo, the disease since that initial dose does not seem to have progressed. His right hand and forearm remain the only affected areas of his otherwise strong and healthy body.

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. 

We know that our hockey family will want to help, and we appreciate that so much. Here's how you can do that.

Be positive and hopeful with us, pray for us in whatever way you pray, and don't treat us - most especially Chris - differently than you always have. He is the same person today he was yesterday and he will be the same person tomorrow and in two months and beyond. Hug your family, wring all the joy from each moment of your life, play with your children, and be present - all things at which Chris has always been wonderful.

Continue to love us and love our kids. Of all the devastation this diagnosis brought, the idea of telling the two of them they were going to lose their dad was the most crushing. But now we have hope and, we believe, a different story. 

The most tangible way you can help us is by donating to research. ALS is a rare disease, and rare diseases aren't easily cured. Fewer than 20,000 people in North America are estimated to be living with ALS. Of them only 2,000 are living with familial ALS, the kind caused by a gene passed down within a family. And yet this has torn through Chris' family. At the University of Miami researchers are focused on developing treatments for ALS, including those with familial forms of the disease. They have pioneered the study of the pre-symptomatic stage of ALS with the goal of one day being able to delay or even prevent the disease. With your help they can afford to do more and do it faster. To donate, please visit this link: http://uom.convio.net/goto/chrissnow

The next most powerful thing you can do for us is to believe in this treatment. Our hope is rooted in the results we believe we are seeing and in the optimism expressed by doctors who have spent their careers studying this disease. 

As our neurologist said after Chris received his first dose in the trial - "We're here to make history."

- Kelsie Snow

Holiday vacation plans? Take a look at the Gophers bowl game forecast

This is the time of year is usually when Gophers football fans  hope and plead for a sixth victory in order to become bowl eligible and have their team’s season extend for another few weeks and end up in an exotic destination like Detroit, where Minnesota has played in two of the last four Quick Lane Bowls.

But P.J. Fleck’s team took care of the bowl eligibility issue by winning its first six games and now, at 8-0 and with an interesting and formidable slate of four games ahead, the Gophers are primed for a bowl game that could have an impact of your holiday vacation plans – if you’re the kind of fan who’d pick up and head someplace warm and football notorious.

This is the time of year when the bowl forecasts of national experts can be taken a bit more seriously, and it feels like the right time to offer up their thoughts about where the Gophers could end up.

Let’s start with the premise that Minnesota is still a longshot for the College Football Playoffs. Not only would the Gophers need to win the Big Ten championship, which would likely mean beating Ohio State, but they’d have to hope for a series of events that would take some of the other traditional football mega-powers out of the running.

The website 538.com gives the Gophers a 1 in 10 chance of winning the Big Ten title and slightly better than a 1 in 20 chance of being among the four teams in the College Football Playoff.

Now we can get to a more realistic level, which would be one of the New Year’s Six games that isn’t part of the four-team playoff or another New Year’s game that would feature the Gophers against a really-big-deal opponent.

Let’s take a look:

ESPN’s football bowl experts, Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura have Minnesota playing in prime games. Schlabach has the Gophers facing Texas A&M in the Outback Bowl in Tampa and Bonagura has then going to the Orange Bowl in Miami against Wake Forest.

Sports Illustrated also has the Gophers playing Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl; CBS bowl expert Jerry Palm, USA Today, wacthstadium.com and Athlon Sports, which publishes preseason guides to college and pro sports, all agree with Schlabach and has them meeting Texas A&M in the Outback.

The Banner Society website, which is part of SB Nation, has Minnesota vs. Texas A&M in the Outback Bowl, as well as a breakdown of how it arrives as the various bowl match-ups. Keep in mind this isn’t exactly a meritocracy, with ESPN having a controlling interest in a number of games and other bowls often looking for a local team or regional match-up more than the best teams available.

The Sporting News sends the Gophers to the Outback Bowl but has them playing Mississippi State..

College Football News has Minnesota playing Kentucky in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, the college football hangover day.

Also, keep in mind that these projections can be fluid. Go back to the beginning of the month, for example, and Bleacher Report had picked Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl and had the Gophers going to New York City to play North Carolina State in the Pinstripe Bowl. (New York City, good. Opponent, OK. Yankee Stadium, not for a Minnesota fan who also has a fondness for baseball).

Another example of bowl logic: The 247 sports site has Minnesota playing Auburn in the Citrus Bowl and explains it this way: “Minnesota played in this game a few years ago against Missouri, but that team wasn't unbeaten through nine weeks with visions of a bigger bowl, either. At this point, the Gophers heading to Orlando is near worst-case scenario for a team that has made tremendous strides under P.J. Fleck. Auburn fans travel well and the Tigers haven't played in this game in more than a decade.”

So here are five takeaways:

Minnesota’s low-end bowl game should be way higher than the seasons of six or seven victories.

Bowl match-ups aren’t always fair once television and geography gets thrown in.

The College Football Playoff (Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl for the semifinals) is a big, big longshot and Minnesota isn’t yet getting enough respect to have experts penciling them in for the Rose Bowl.

Every undefeated team from a Power 5 conference, which includes the Big Ten, has made the College Football Playoff in its five-year history. Of the six one-loss teams that haven't made it from those conferences, four have been from the Big Ten.

Stay away from this stuff until after the Gophers-Penn State game a week from Saturday. Then, depending on what happens, start looking at flight schedules and hotel rates.