Canadiens-Flyers: Two Minutes for Throwing Beverages?

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer IApril 25, 2008

One bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch.

So says Michael Jackson, anyway—and if he says it, it must be right.

I'm sure that there are plenty of Montreal Canadiens fans who are good, smart, and responsible people.  As a Leafs fan, I've met a few Habs loyalists; some are good friends who like to have a little fun in supporting their team.

But that doesn't excuse the group of morons who have been unfortunately representing the Canadiens over the past few days.

The first incident came late Monday/early Tuesday following the Habs' Game Seven triumph over the Bruins, when celebrating crowds damaged stores and burned cars. Authorities ultimately needed tear gas to restore order.

And that was only the beginning.  

The real black mark came last night, after the Flyers' Mike Richards took a late penalty.  The jury is still out on what actually happened on the ice.  It looked to me like Richards was going to bodycheck Alexei Kovalev before the Russian sniper deked out of the way and caused a knee-on-knee collision.  In any event, Richards was assessed a penalty on the play—and was promptly showered with beer by two fans upon reaching the penalty box.

The evidence was there for all to see.  Though cameras didn't capture the fans throwing the suds, you could clearly see that Richards' head and jersey were soaked.  The glass in front of him was also wet.

Now, there's nothing wrong with voicing your displeasure at the arena.  In fact, I encourage it.  A loud hockey atmosphere is a great hockey atmosphere.  

However, these fans took it too far—and it makes me wonder if the NHL will do more to protect their players.  

The league's only real option would be to assess a penalty to the home team in such situations, on the grounds of either unsportsmanlike conduct or delay of game. I for one hope Gary Bettman and Co. have the courage to act.

Surely we haven't regressed to the 70s, when fans would spit, throw coins, and reach over the glass to try and get a piece of the players—but last night proved that the crowd can still be a problem. 

A simple offseason rule change could put a stop to it in a hurry.

You're supposed to have fun at hockey games, and most of the fans in the Bell Centre do. It's a shame that an unruly few seem determined to cross the line.

Please believe me when I tell you that this isn't a Toronto fan trying to get under the skin of Habs fans, because it's about much more than that.  

I could make the very same case for Game Seven of the Philadelphia-Washington series, when a fan threw a beer at Flyers forward Jeff Carter during an on-ice postgame interview.

In that case, there wasn't much corrective action to be taken, because the game was over, and so as Washington's season. In Montreal, though, a penalty could have changed the course of the game.


Author's Note:

Once again I apologize if I offended anyone.  Please don't flip my car, or throw a beer at me (sorry, had to take that jab.)

I realize you can't judge all the Canadiens fans in the world by just a few individuals.