NHL Column: Way To Go, Flyers Fans
As I lie on my bed watching the third period of game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal game between the Flyers and the Capitals Monday night, I couldn’t help but feel sick, disgusted and worst of all embarrassed.
I watched the Capitals pump goal after goal past Flyers’ goaltender Steve Mason on a five-minute powerplay after the Flyers’ Pierre-Edouard Bellemare irresponsibly drilled Capitals’ defenseman Dmitry Orlov into the boards.
However, my feelings had nothing to do with the play on the ice, or the final score of 6-1.
After Bellemare’s penalty and ensuing ejection, the fans in South Philadelphia had enough, and debris started raining down from the crowd. The debris were light-up wristbands that were part of the pregame light show to get the crowd ready for a pivotal game three.
NBCSN television cameras even captured one of the wristbands hitting Orlov as he was being checked on the bench by a trainer.
Not a good look for Philly fans who have a bad enough reputation among the national media and opposing fans, fair or not.
But those fans that tossed their wristbands did their part in continuing the stereotype of Philly fans being labeled as “classless” and “garbage.”
The thing is, however, most Flyers fans will tell you themselves that the showing from the Wells Fargo Center last night was terrible and an embarrassment to them also.
When the wristbands first rained onto the ice, the officials issued a warning to Flyers’ Head Coach Dave Hakstol that the next time it happens the Flyers would be issued a two minute delay of game penalty. A message that was conveyed to the fans by public address announcer Lou Nolan who began his announcement with “to you classless fans…”
I think you all know what would happen next.
After another whistle more wristbands fell from the stands and Flyers were indeed issued a minor penalty that of course Washington and their lethal powerplay unit scored on.
It was a pathetic showing that made Nolan jump on his PA microphone again to scold the fans.
“Okay. To those of you who have been throwing them, you’ve done it now. Two minute bench minor to the Flyers for delay of the game,” Nolan announced. “Way to go…”
The fans cheered.
Way to go, my fellow Flyers fans.
You have spent 50 years trying to shed the negative narrative of Philadelphia fans ever since spectators at Franklin Field pelted a Santa Clause at an Eagles’ game with snowballs in the 60’s. Granted, that story doesn’t include the whole truth about that December day, but they don’t care.
Obviously not all fanbases are without sin. The same night ESPN microphones captured a St. Louis Cardinals fan shouting a racial slur at former outfielder Jason Heyward during his return to Busch Stadium. However, Monday’s actions gave everyone that much more ammunition against us.
Especially on the night that was supposed to be about the late, great Ed Snider – The founder and owner of the franchise since 1967 who passed away from cancer exactly a week before.
“Mr. Snider” would not have been proud of the way his fans acted on the day celebrating his legacy.
During the moment of silence in Snider’s honor before Monday’s game, one fan bellowed “F*** the Pens” in response to a Pittsburgh Penguins fan shouting something of the same sentiment towards the Flyers during last Wednesday’s moment of silence in respect to Snider.
If fans were jumping on that Penguins fan that showed zero respect for himself, how are we any better if we do the same thing?
The Flyers organization released a statement Tuesday vilifying the fans that acted up.
“Fans have the right to voice their displeasure vocally or by not watching or attending games, but when displeasure is expressed in a way that embarrasses or endangers others, it cannot be condoned or tolerated.”
The Flyers say approximately 100 wristbands were tossed onto the ice.
We, as fans, deserve all of the criticism that people are throwing our way.
“Dad would’ve called [the fans] a disgrace,” Sniders daughter Sarena tweeted Tuesday.
The hockey team was able to have a culture change and move on from the “Broad Street Bullies” mentality.
It’s time for the fans to have their own culture change as well.
Tyler Brackbill is a senior telecommunications major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.