Flyers fans are under fire for throwing debris at the Capitals player who was on the receiving end of a scary, dirty hit

Bellemare Hits OrlovMatt Slocum/AP

The Washington Capitals took Game 3 from the Philadelphia Flyers, 6-1, in Philly on Monday night to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But what the score doesn’t reveal is the overall anarchic quality to the game — a chaotic affair that included ugly hits, line brawls, and a minor penalty given to the Flyers as a result of their home fans repeatedly hurling light-up bracelets onto the ice. The latter occurred as boos rained down from the rafters, even as the P.A. announcer begged them to stop.

Now that the dust has settled, both the Flyers and their fans are being lambasted far and wide for the behavior.

Before we get into the criticism, let’s first recap what went down:

Prior to the game, the Flyers paid tribute to their late owner, Ed Snider, with light-up bracelets every fan received on their seat (these will become important later).

The game took a turn for the worse in the second period, when Philadelphia’s Ryan White laid a hit on Bruce Orpik along the boards. Although the hit was perfectly legal, it still resulted in an ugly concussion for Orpik, who looked completely out of it as he was helped off the ice.

The hit that likely concussed Brooks Orpik

— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 19, 2016

Orpik after the hit. Was WAY out of it.

— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 19, 2016

There was nothing wrong with White’s hit, but dirty play began to snowball from here forward. Orpik was booed off the ice, and you started to get a sense that Flyers fans were growing rowdy and restless.

In the third period, with the Caps comfortably leading 4-1, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare hit Dmitry Orlov from behind, helmet-first into the boards. Orlov could have broken his neck, or worse, and the hit resulted in a line brawl between the two sides.

Orlov, somehow, emerged relatively unscathed from the hit. He appeared only to suffer from a cut on his nose.


But at this point, Flyers fans seemed fed up with the game, with their team’s performance, and with their opponents. So, they started pelting the ice with the bracelets they’d received for Snider’s pre-game tribute.

You can see Orlov get hit while he’s being tended to on the bench:

Flyers fans pelt a concussed Orlov with a wristband. Nice.

— Evgeni Malkin’s Ego (@EvgeniMaIkinEgo) April 19, 2016

The Flyers’ P.A. announcer, Lou Nolan, pleaded with fans to stop:

“This is why we can’t have nice things” -dude behind me, as the fans chuck bracelets at the refs and caps

— Vikin’ (@lelawarner28) April 19, 2016

PA announcer pleads with fans to stop chucking wristbands. “This is Philly, this is not somewhere else in the NHL….Have some class.”

— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) April 19, 2016

Poor PA guy: “Ok those fans that were classless enough to throw these….next one that’s out there is going to cause us a minor penalty.”

— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) April 19, 2016

Not long after the bracelets were swept off the ice and the actual hockey game began again, Alexander Ovechekin scored a power play goal. The bracelets came raining down yet again, even as players on both sides begged fans to stop:

Alex Ovechkin and Wayne Simmonds would appreciate it if you stopped throwing bracelets onto the ice

— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) April 19, 2016

Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers was caught on camera calling the display “embarrassing”:

.@dcsportsbog Wayne: “embarrassing”

— Colin (@clloydd) April 19, 2016

Eventually, the refs doled out a 2-minute minor penalty on Philadelphia for delay of game:

“Ok, those of you that have been throwing them, you’ve done it now. Two minute bench minor. Way to go.” Fans cheer. Loudly.

— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) April 19, 2016

After the game, Ryan White seemed to encourage this sort of behavior from the Flyers fans:

Ryan White on #Flyers fans throwing wristbands: “Whatever. I love the Philly fans. I’d have done it too.”

— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) April 19, 2016

Philadelphia has long had the reputation of having bad and boorish fans; as Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky noted, that characterization is both fair and unfair. All fan bases have subsections of these sorts of fan, and Philadelphia is certainly not the only city that witnesses ugly, embarrassing fan behavior in its stadiums.

Because of reputation and confirmation bias, though, whenever incidents like this happen in Philadephia the rest of the sports world seems to lambast the Philly fans more strongly than we would if the exact same incident had happened in, say, Denver or Detroit. Those Philly fans, we say. Always keeping it classy.

But as Petchesky added, many Philadelphia fans do carry themselves with a chip on their shoulder, and pride themselves on playing the tough guys. It’s why Philly is a notoriously difficult place to play. And by and large, this is a good thing for sports; insofar as sports are entertainment, you’d rather rowdy fans that play a role than passive fans, or stadiums with no fans at all.

Every so often, fans go too far. They did on Monday night, and as such they deserve the criticism they have received, and will continue to receive. But let’s not forget that their team didn’t seem to have any interest in playing a hockey game, either.

“They weren’t interested in playing anymore,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said afterwards of the Flyers. “So we were on the power play for the last seven or eight minutes. I just thought it wasn’t very good for our game. It’s that simple. We were on national television. It didn’t display our game very well.”

The Capitals and Flyers play in Philadelphia for Game 4 on Wednesday night. Only time will tell if the fans — and the team — behave the same way.

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