Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov was recovering on the bench after being railroaded from behind by Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare with 7:43 remaining in the Caps’ eventual 6-1 win over the Flyers Monday night when he was hit in the face by a white rubber wristband thrown from the crowd.
A few feet away, Capitals coach Barry Trotz was seething.
One by one, the rubber light-up wristbands that were distributed to fans as part of a tribute to team founder Ed Snider were tossed onto the ice in frustration over the Flyers’ lopsided loss to their division rival.
Capitals left wing Jason Chimera said he’s seen a lot of things in hockey over the years, but …
“Yeah, I’ve never seen that before,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that a few fans ruin it for the thousands of people that came and love to watch hockey. And for the team, too. It cost them a goal. You never want to see that. The money (thrown from unruly crowds) hurts. The plastic wristbands don’t hurt so much.”
No, but Trotz said it gave the NHL a black eye.
“I felt bad for … it was a tribute to Mr. Snider,” Trotz said Tuesday. “I’m proud of our game and it wasn’t on good display last night. That’s my biggest frustration. We were still playing hockey and I thought it was just a little bit uncalled for. And it got dangerous for not only our players but also for the Flyer players.
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“Those bracelets are white and the ice is white. All you need is Claude Giroux to step on one and snap his leg in half, or one of our guys. To me, that was my biggest frustration.”
Fans began littering the ice with bracelets following Bellemare’s penalty, which resulted in a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety. And despite warnings from public address announcer Lou Nolan, it continued on each stoppage, resulting in the Flyers being assessed a bench minor for delay of game following a goal by Alex Ovechkin with 5:02 remaining.
“You could tell by the in-house announcer, it was actually quite comical,” Trotz said. “And then they do it and it’s a penalty. But at the same time it is dangerous out there. Fans have to respect that players are going at high speeds out there and if you step on something it just sweeps your feet out and you go ankle first into the boards or snap your leg. That was my biggest frustration.”
Snider’s daughter, Sarena, voiced her displeasure with the unruly fans with a tweet that read: “My dad would've called the wristband throwers a "disgrace" & may have spoken publicly. But he wouldn't look back, only forward.”
Apparently, the Flyers had planned on passing out more of the wristbands for Game 4 on Wednesday night but are likely to change those plans. On Tuesday, cases of the wristbands remained sealed on the event level floor of the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.
Trotz said he is “not at all” concerned about his players’ safety for Game 4, where the Capitals hope to complete their first sweep in playoff history.
“I think the (Flyers) organization will have a clear message to everybody,” Trotz said.
The Flyers issued this statement on Tuesday:
“Flyers fans are the best in sports. However, last night a number of individuals behaved in an unacceptable manner.
"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. 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."