- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — Barry Trotz condemned those who threw objects onto the ice late in the Washington Capitals’ 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the teams’ first-round playoff series, saying on Tuesday that the irritated tone he had during his postgame press conference a day earlier tied to concerns over player safety.

“I’m proud about our game, and it wasn’t on good display last night,” Trotz said, speaking in general about the sport. “That was probably my biggest frustration. We’re still playing hockey. I thought it was just a little bit uncalled for.”

Fans objected to the officials’ decision to award a game misconduct to Flyers center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, whose hit send Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov head-first into the end boards, at 12:17 of the third period.

They threw a number of objects onto the ice — including translucent wristbands, which the team taped to each seat prior to the game so that fans could take part in a pregame light show.

One of those wristbands hit Orlov once he returned to the bench. The arena’s ice crew twice had to shovel them off the surface, and their color made them difficult to spot.

After the penalty was assessed to Bellemare, the arena’s public address announcer, Lou Nolan, pleaded for fans to cease tossing objects onto the ice. He warned that if the crowd continued to toss the wristbands and other items, the home team would be assessed a delay of game penalty — and at 14:58, after Alex Ovechkin’s second goal pushed the score to 5-1, it was.

Ovechkin and Wayne Simmonds, the Flyers‘ captain, stood together at center ice at one point, raising their hands and pleading for fans to stop.

Bellemare, who spoke to representatives with the league’s department of player safety on Tuesday, was suspended for Game 4 on Wednesday as a result of the hit.

“It got dangerous for not only our players, but also for the Flyers‘ players,” Trotz said. “You look at those bracelets, they’re white, 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 probably my biggest frustration … and 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 just sweeps your feet out and you go ankle first in the boards or snap your leg or those type of things. That was probably my biggest frustration.”

The Flyers released a statement on Tuesday condemning the behavior, saying in part that “fans have their 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 incident was the latest blight for the city’s sports fans. One hockey-related incident in 1972 featured St. Louis Blues coach Al Arbour and three players entering the crowd to fight those who spilled beer on the coach during a game against the Flyers.

“It’s a passionate fanbase, but you can be passionate fans without doing stuff like that as well,” Flyers goaltender Steve Mason said.


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