PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers admonished some of their own fans Tuesday as criticism mounted in light of the ugly ending of their Game 3 loss to the Washington Capitals in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
In a statement, the Flyers expressed regret that “a number of individuals behaved in an unacceptable manner” during Monday’s game at Wells Fargo Center.
At the end of Washington’s 6-1 win, a portion of frustrated Flyers fans began throwing light-up bracelets that the franchise attached to every seat for an elaborate pregame introduction on a night late owner Ed Snider was being honored.
One wristband nailed injured Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov in the face as he sat on the bench recovering from being sent headfirst into the boards by Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who on Tuesday was suspended for Game 4 by the NHL because of the hit. Washington will go for the series sweep Wednesday night, making for a potentially tense and threatening environment again.
“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’ statement read. “As an organization and on behalf of the overwhelming majority of Flyers’ fans who express their passion in a positive manner, we wish to express our sincere regret.”
The shower of wristbands onto the ice earned Philadelphia a bench minor penalty, which some fans cheered. There was also a scolding from in-house public address announcer Lou Nolan, disappointed when the fans continued to throw items from the crowd.
“I mean, whatever,” Flyers center Ryan White said. “I love the Philly fans. I’d be doing it, too.”
A Philadelphia team spokesman said in an email that about 100 bracelets were thrown to the ice Monday. Even 12 hours later, the entire experience bothered Capitals Coach Barry Trotz.
“I felt bad for, it was a tribute to Mr. Snider,” Trotz said of the Flyers’ co-founder, who died last week. “Our game, I’m proud of our game, and it was not a good display last night. That was probably my biggest frustration. We’re still playing hockey, and I thought it was just a little bit uncalled for and not only our players, but also for the Flyers’ players.
“Those bracelets are white, and all you need is [Flyers captain] Claude Giroux to step on one and snap a blade in half. Or one of our guys. To me, that was probably my biggest frustration. You could tell from the in-house announcer. It was actually quite comical. ‘Now you’ve gone and done it,’ and the penalty. At the same time, it is dangerous out there. The fans have to respect that the players are going at high speeds and you step on something and it sweeps your feet out.”
Asked whether he’s now worried about the Capitals’ safety should the team end this best-of-seven series in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, Trotz said he’s not.
“I think the organization and that, they’ll have a clear message to everybody,” Trotz said. “We’ve got great security and all that, so it hasn’t been a problem.”
The Flyers finished Game 3 with 53 penalty minutes, and while the Capitals won the game with a franchise-record five power-play goals, they’ve already lost defenseman Brooks Orpik to an upper-body injury for an indeterminate amount of time.
“Obviously we’re not going to go out of our way and try to hurt someone or try to break someone’s leg or whatever,” T.J. Oshie said. “We’re going to go out there and score a goal and see how they like it.”
Defenseman Mike Weber, a healthy scratch, said he sat in the stands itching to join the fray as the Flyers turned the game into a fistfight. Center Jay Beagle said, “You’re a little in disbelief. I’ve never been involved with a game like that.”
“You don’t want to see that. You don’t want to see a negative ending like that to a game,” forward Jason Chimera said. “I think it’s not like the Flyers are trying to blow the game. They’re trying to press out there. Obviously it’s just a couple fans that ruin it for a lot of people. People will say, ‘Oh, Philly’s terrible,’ but it’s a couple people that ruin it for a lot of people, for sure. That’s not indicative of the Philly fans, for sure. They’re a passionate bunch of people, and I think to see that, it’s only a couple people that did that.”