OK, I get it. Ray Emery took on Holtby when he didn't want to fight. It seems that everybody is angry at the Flyers, including their fans, for this fight. I disagree. Hear me out before you start stating it's 2013 and the game has changed.
1 Emotion -I watch every Flyers game I can but last was so hard to watch I actually stopped trying to catch the games on TV. It was boring and unemotional. I was pretty busy during the debacle season in 2007 and only caught about half the games but I saw a team with potential and heart. Last year not so much. I fully expected them to react the same as last year, with no emotion. But out of nowhere comes Ray Emery and decides to show emotion. It reminded me of how Hextall and Flyers in the past cared about losing and got pissed off. We are Flyers fans. We didn't follow this team for their grace and sportsmanship.
2 Bad Guys- In case everybody forgot, the team we cheer for are considered the bad guys of hockey. It has always been Us vs. Them. Why are people in Philly so angry that our team is considered bad (not rule following bad) again? I remember the first game of the 2008 season (Briere, Hartnell, Jason Smith's 1st game) where Boulerice crosschecked Kesler in the 1st period. It set the tone that the Flyers were not going to be easy to play against again. I think they had several suspensions to follow in that year but they also made the conference finals. I feel like that has been missing from the Flyers since the Penguins series. I personally follow the Flyers BECAUSE of their reputation. Their team is filled with hard-nosed players who have some skill.
3 They play better when they are mean- They aren't going to win games with offense; they are going to win it with emotion and dirty goals around the crease. To play like that they need to be physical and emotional. Like it or not, Holmgren has built a team that is filled with muckers and grinders. At some point the Flyers believed they were a great offensive team (most likely in the year Jagr was here). Schenn and Couturier are not offensive stars like Giroux, they are defensive forwards who can score dirty goals. Simmonds, Downie, Rinaldo, Hartnell, and Hall are not scorers; they play best when the other team is trying to hit them back for being overly physical. Friday night, to me, Emery led the charge to become unlikeable and mean again.
4 Holtby is to blame- I know this sounds like I love fighting and beating on less physical players but again, hear me out. Holtby has to understand that if his team is making the other look like midget league players, that a response is coming. This is the way it has been in hockey forever. Yes some teams would take their licks and move on but the Flyers have never been known to go down without a fight. At what point does a real hockey player get challenged and doesn't try and protect himself. Emery was pissed off and decided to join his teammates. How does a hockey player step down from a challenge? Matt Read was challenged his rookie year and he fought. Could you imagine if he turtled and hoped the refs would intervene?
In conclusion, in order to play the type of game required to win with their type of talent, they need to play with emotion even if it sometimes crosses the line and pisses people off. The minute the Flyers organization starts worrying about how they are being perceived by the NHL, is the time I will start watching another team. If I wanted to cheer for a bunch of talented Lady Byng candidates, I would be a Detroit fan. Instead I'm a Flyers fan and enjoy them showing emotion, even if it crosses the line once in a while. At what point did the Flyers fans start complaining about a line brawl? Some reminders below that the Flyers aren't to be confused with a gentle team (in case you weren't aware the team you follow doesn't always play nice). Maybe the Washington game forced the team to understand what kind of team they are. Hopefully they rally behind the fact they are hated again by the league.
Flyers vs Penguins Apr 2 1989 Fight Night (via mike8219)
Felix Potvin vs. Ron Hextall Goalie fight (via hockeyfreak896890)