I was the the Flyers-Panthers game last night and witnessed the Flyers do their best New Jersey Devils impersonation against a middling team they should be able to handle easily. The crowd was obviously unhappy with the effort (or rather lack thereof) set forth by the orange and black and it showed; a noticeable amount of fans didn't come back for the third period, and most left after it became 5-0 halfway through the final stanza. Another aspect of the game was the booing. At several points and especially the final moments of the game the crowd showed their appreciation for the team with a chorus of boos.
I thought about earlier this season when Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke criticized Leafs fans for booing the team, most notably captain Dion Phaneuf. Sure, booing is usually reserved for hated opponents but sometimes the home team needs to be made aware they are not performing up to expectations. Burke called Leafs fans "disgraceful," but they should be able to act however they want when it is they who are being disgraced. Sometimes it takes a kick in the ass from the crowd to get a team going. Though if the Devils are any indication this season, that may not always work.
Look at the Flyers last year. Three hundred and sixty-four days prior to last night's game, the Flyers played played another lackluster game against those same Panthers, only this time they had lost 14 of their previous 17 games, including that one. they were booed off the ice and the players felt embarrassed, not only for that game but for the way the season in general had been going to that point. After that, they went on a tear, getting points in 19 of their next 26 games and saving the season. The players were no doubt disappointed in themselves but the booing from the Flyers faithful must have stung them extra deep. Fans pay for way over-priced tickets and beer to watch way over-payed players play a game, the least they can do is to show a little effort. Expecting them to win every game is foolish but they can at least try.