Are the Philadelphia Flyers naïve, willfully ignorant or completely stupid?
Any of those explanations can be applied to the decision by the team to hand out plastic bracelets to every fan in attendance at Game 3 of their divisional semifinal series against the Washington Capitals.
AND YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.
Once more, with feeling: a hockey game, in Philadelphia, against a hated rival and superior opponent, in a series that undoubtedly has flashpoints of violence, on an emotional night, given the tribute to late owner Ed Snider at the top of the program.
And you hand out plastic projectiles to every fan in every seat?
Did anyone not see this coming?
Wayne Simmonds saw them in-coming. We felt terrible for him, actually: Dude gives an MVP performance this season, sees his team unable to find a crack in Braden Holtby’s wall, and then watches his fans throw light-up bracelets on the ice while he raises his hand and yells “NO, STOP, [EXPLETIVE] STOP!”, which of course they didn’t.
This is the reason Flyers fans can’t have nice things, until their team inexplicably gives them nice things, which they then throw at opposing players on the bench as they recover from head trauma.
As Mike Sielski chronicled on Philly.com today:
The obligatory Flyers-instigated brawl with less than eight minutes left in the Capitals' 6-1 victory in Game 3 led to the obligatory throwing of debris and wristbands onto the ice, which led to the obligatory admonishment by public-address announcer Lou Nolan to the crowd: "This is Philly. Act with class." The wristbands rained down again minutes later, earning the Flyers a minor penalty for delay of the game and inspiring Nolan to scold the fans as if he were a frustrated parent: "Way to go."
In their first home game after the death of Ed Snider - their founder, owner, and chairman - the Flyers and their followers put on a display that manifested the worst instincts within themselves and validated the worst stereotypes about them. They embarrassed themselves, all of them, in every possible way. When spectators scream during a pregame moment of silence for a team's patriarch - as several Flyers fans did Monday - and it's not the most graceless, dishonorable episode of the night, that's telling.
Some in Philadelphia have argued that the combination of supposedly poor calls from the officials and the underachieving performance of the Flyers made the actions understandable. Honestly, I think that's holding the fanbase to an embarrassingly-low standard. Even if you believe that the officials did a poor job in Game 3 (and the series at large), this certainly wouldn't be the first time referees made mistakes in a playoff series. Nor would it be the first time that a home team delivered a dud of a performance in a key game. But you don't see fans pelting the field of play on a weekly basis because of it.
Some also criticized the Flyers' promotional staff for handing out the bracelets, claiming that they should have predicted that drunk and angry fans might decide to use them as projectiles. While there's some truth to that (and I'm sure this will be the last time the Flyers' organizations tries something like this), it actually was a very neat visual experience at the arena. The bracelets lit up during the pre-game, at intermissions, and even to announce Philadelphia power plays. It's disappointing that a unique idea was ruined by a few idiots, and that we'll probably never see another creative promotion like this at a Flyers game ever again.
Let me see if I can fit this all in one run-on sentence: Flyers fans pelted the ice with light-up bracelets on the night the team honored their late owner, Ed Snider, whose beloved squad, honoring his memory by wearing his initials on their sleeves and prominently featuring them on the ice itself, got demolished, 6-1, by a much better team, the Capitals, whose coach thinks the Flyers gave up toward the end of the game, right around the time when the PA announcer, Lou Nolan, warned fans about throwing the bracelets and then chastised them for incurring a penalty for the Flyers as a result of their boorish action that will get national play for years, and which resulted in a bracelet hitting an opposing player in the face while he was on the bench being treated for what appeared to be a concussion, this as two captains pleaded with fans to stop throwing their fucking trinkets, which, again, were given out on the night the team honored Mr. Snider.
Welcome to the club, Philly Fans Threw Wristbands on the Night They Honored Ed Snider. Ask Snowballs at Santa about his eggnog and Batteries at Drew if you need a phone charger
As is tradition whenever a large collection of idiots tarnishes an entire fan base, you can expect a lot of #NotAllFlyersFans this morning, and that’s fine. Hell, some Flyers fans were all #NotAllPenguinsFans when someone yelled "FLYERS SUCK!" during a moment of silence for Ed Snider in Pittsburgh, which was a game-ops move nearly as inexplicable as giving Flyers fans plastic projectiles during the game. (Again, what did you think was going to happen?)
Every fan base is a large family, and you’re going to have your Ivy League grads and your cousins in jail and your creepy uncles. You saw that dynamic play out among the Flyers themselves last night. You had Simmonds pleading with Flyers fans to stop throwing crap on the ice, and you had Ryan White after the game, saying this:
“Oh, you know I didn’t see that, I was already kicked out; I didn’t even know it happened. I just got told that’s what was going on. I didn’t realize they got warned or whatever. But I mean, whatever. I love the Philly fans. I’d be doing it too.”
Let’s not pretend this hasn’t been the dichotomy that Ed Snider ruled over for nearly five decades: The noble traditions of Flyers hockey, and the blood on the ice; the incredible dedication of Flyers fans, having created a singular home-ice advantage in the NHL, and the undeniable line-crossing and bracelet hurling that comes with it.
Even as Flyers fans have toned it down in recent years – hell, their behavior in the last Cup run to the Blackhawks’ victory was downright quaint – this is still what the fan base is, and this is what the fan base will always be, because this is what Ed Snider cultivated since the 1970s.
Local Philly sports anchor Jeff Skversky tweeted last night, “Ed Snider would NOT be happy!” with the bracelet tossing. But we also don’t think he’d be all that surprised by the fans.
Well, #NotAllFlyersFans, as their PA guy pointed out last night: “Those of you who have been throwing them you've done it now. … Way to go.”
“Way to go” indeed. But we look forward to the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff commemorative thing-chained-to-your-arena-seat for Game 4.
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