Apr 29, 2008

Flyers know how to work up the crowd

More from Philadelphia -- an article from the Globe and Mail about how the Philadelphia Flyers are working up their fans for the playoffs. (Again via KuklasKorner)

"There's still a Philly flu," [Bernie Parent] says. "Only it's different. It used to be out on the ice, but now it's mostly in the crowd. When we won, I used to say 75 per cent of our success was the crowd."

Last night, it might have been closer to 100 per cent for the first two periods of the Flyers' 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens...

There was no need of the scoreboard announcer welcoming "the most intimidating fans in hockey" to the Wachovia Center. They know who they are — a crowd that would have made the lions wet themselves in Nero's Rome.

The atmosphere in the lead-up to the game was, well, surly, both inside and outside the Flyers' rink.


At the turnstiles, they handed out orange T-shirts with "Crush the Canadiens!" stencilled across the chest. They flashed "Vengeance Now!" across the wraparound scoreboard.

They offered a blistering booing in accompaniment of the Canadian anthem — "I didn't like it," Philadelphia goaltender and Quebec native Martin Biron said at game's end. They cheered through a long rendition of God Bless America, with Lauren Hart, daughter of the late Flyers' play-by-play announcer Gene Hart, joining in a duet with the late Kate Smith, Smith coming in from some other dimension courtesy of grainy film.


They were handed blowup orange thundersticks and, for a select few, blowup sledgehammers just in case the visiting Canadiens didn't get the point.

The scoreboard announcer predicted a "nasty, bloodthirsty" game to answer the "nasty" Montreal Canadien, Tom Kostopoulos, who offered up that controversial "face wash" to a Flyer to end the previous game in Montreal, which Philadelphia had won to even the series at one game apiece.

They showed a few select brawls on the scoreboard, particularly concentrating on those times in the past 41 years of Flyers history where they have pounded various Canadiens players to the ice, if not quite to a pulp.

They paraded out Ed Hospodar, Philadelphia hero of a famous 1987 pregame brawl between the Flyers and the Canadiens, and Hospodar brought the fans to their feet by rolling up his sleeves and doing a little shadow boxing.

They showed clips of what outside media — in this case Washington, home of the Capitals, the team the Flyers beat in seven games in Round 1 — had to say of Philadelphia's famously partisan fans and invited these fans to roundly boo any outside condemnation of their behaviour.

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