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Kingerski: Embarrassing Fans Mock Murray, Penguins Rightfully Unhappy

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Pittsburgh Penguins trade Matt Murray
PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 13: Pittsburgh Penguins Goalie Matt Murray (30) makes a blocker save during the third period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Edmonton Oilers on February 13, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

As usual, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby found a way to note the situation diplomatically and with tact. Players heard the low brow mock cheers for Penguins goalie Matt Murray in the early minutes of the first period and noted them with varying levels of subtlety. It must have been shocking for the players who have delivered one of the most surprising seasons in the NHL.

The Boston Bruins scored two goals in the first 2:02 on Sunday for a 2-0 lead. And mock cheers rained on Murray for several saves afterward.

Let’s cut to the chase. Penguins fans wanted Tristan Jarry in net, and when head coach Mike Sullivan went back to Murray, Penguins fans threw a temper tantrum. It was a full-on toddler meltdown in the middle of Walmart type temper tantrum.

“Fans were harder on our goalie than we would have liked,” Crosby said.

He could have admitted the Penguins’ success has apparently created a large number of spoiled and entitled fans for whom nothing less than domination using fan-preferred players will do, but he demurred amicably.

One player was easily heard by PHN and others in a common area using a pithy F-bomb in his description of the fans’ behavior. By the way, the Penguins came back to win the game over Boston, 4-3 on Sunday. Boston, as you may know (though the booing fans probably don’t), is the reigning Eastern Conference champ, and the leader of the stacked Atlantic Division.

The home team was justifiably stung by their “supportive” home fans turning on them so quickly despite their enormous success this season and in the past.

Murray had won four starts in a row (now five), and each start was progressively better, including allowing just one goal against Detroit on Friday. For those who argued the Penguins should start the “hot hand,” Murray was that hot hand.

And the two goals allowed were on odd-man rushes and shots at point-blank range, but those are irrelevant facts when a good hate is being lathered up. Murray isn’t what fans wanted, and they turned on the goalie after two quick goals.

“No comment,” Matt Murray quickly offered when a reporter asked about the rough treatment.

Perhaps Murray could have borrowed Patrick Roy’s line and said he couldn’t hear the fans because he had two Stanley Cup rings in his ears.

Instead of mock cheers and boos, perhaps some Penguins fans could flop to the ground and kick their arms and legs until they get what they want? If that doesn’t work, they could hold their breath.

The fan display was that obnoxious.

The Bronx cheers also caused some hard feelings in the locker room. The Pittsburgh Penguins are in the middle of a remarkable season, in which their record is 31-13-5, despite playing 28 games without Crosby, 13 games without Evgeni Malkin, despite missing top-pairing defenseman Brian Dumoulin and second pair puck-mover, Justin Schultz.

They have surged to within four points of the devastatingly good Washington Capitals for the top spot in the Metro Division. And on Sunday, none of that was good enough.

So, the Penguins fans offered their Mean Girls routine to one of the core players after two minutes of one game.

“I give Matt Murray a ton of credit. I thought he made some huge saves in the third period,” head coach Mike Sullivan offered. “We don’t win that game if Matt doesn’t make those saves.”

The Penguins locker room knows too well how recently Murray backstopped them to two Stanley Cup victories. It’s true, he has struggled in each of the last two Novembers and Decembers, then rounded into form as the games get more important. It’s also true he could have made a big save in the early minutes to limit the damage.

However, it’s truer that Murray wasn’t Jarry.

“We heard the (mock) cheers in the first. You’d like them not to do that, but Matt is a professional,” defenseman Kris Letang darkly chuckled in disbelief of the situation.

Sports is a “what have you done for me lately,” business, but two minutes is a shockingly quick heel turn. And repeated Bronx cheers deep into the first period with each Murray save brought the fanbase down a level each time.

I’ve been through Toronto fans singing, “Fire Wilson,” about former head coach Ron Wilson, and their Phil Kessel angst. I’ve been through minor league fans waiting in the hallway during the first intermission to dress down their top-line center for not fighting after scoring a goal to earn a 4-1 first period lead.

Sunday was a low water mark for Penguins fans. Perhaps there were simply a bunch of drunken Steelers fans still salty about another missed opportunity, and they brought their frustrations to PPG.

Earning 30 wins couldn’t buy a two minute grace period. Yeah, the Pittsburgh Penguins noticed Pittsburgh fans turn on them despite their extraordinary season. And fans should be embarrassed.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Herman
Herman
1 year ago

Great Comeback Win and Greater Team especially the Captain to take umbrage for the offense but what about had the comeback fell short?

Or had the Pens chalked it up as another inevitable defeat?

I thought the cat call(s) we’re a wake up call to the rest of the team – although the Pens fan base is polarizing & fickle bunch (self included).

candydasein
candydasein (@candydasein)
1 year ago

One of your best articles of the year. Thank you for writing this, Dan. I hope the players read this. I’m so angry at these petulant, entitled “fans.” And get ready for a bunch of comments about how people paid for these tickets and can do whatever they want. Sure, and I guess that includes being a freaking unappreciative toddler? I really hope this doesn’t create lasting damage in the team -fan relationship.

candydasein
candydasein (@candydasein)
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

I guess it’s up the other fans — the ones who didn’t jeer, the majority I think — to repair the damage.

Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

It was pretty gross and uncalled for and great job on the article Dan. Not going to condone it but it may have actually lit a fire under MM cause that was his best hockey in a long time. Great response.

Joan
Joan
1 year ago

I was not at the game but watched on tv. I didn’t hear the jeers. Don’t let a few idiot fans ruin the fan – team relationship. You guys rock! Proud to be a penguin fan!! Going to my first game 2/22. Can’t wait!!

King Penguin
King Penguin
1 year ago
Reply to  candydasein

Clearly, this is a Murray-Fleury thing. It doesn’t extend to other players, largely because goalies can be abused in public a lot easier than those at other positions.

Ricardo58
Ricardo58
1 year ago

Opinion and subjectivity is part of being a fan. Sure it is helpful to be reasonable and objective, but opinion and subjectivity allow rivalries to develop and promote clicks on various sites, this one included. Typically, the articles on this site is void of subjectivity and opinion, but this article is clearly not. From my perspective, I understand and I’m more inclined to think in the same manner of this article. However, these are professionals paid to play a game. The athletes are paid win, lose or draw. Sure fan support is good and appreciated even during a rough stretch… Read more »

Dean
Dean
1 year ago

Let me start by saying I was not at the game but watched it. One of the best moments I ever experienced as a Pittsburgh/sport fan was the crowd ~5 years back cheering Fluery, Fluery, Fluery after Fluery started another game poorly. BTW, we won that game too. You are correct that these fans did not handle a similar situation the same. Dan, I have to say that you have an amazing gift where you can know what everybody’s thinking. I also appreciate how you can criticize one groups poor behavior and praise another’s. I am not from the me,… Read more »

David Heyl
David Heyl (@belfairroxi)
1 year ago

Did everyone miss Coach Sullivan’s bench interview? I sensed his frustration level with the start however he has control to correct the situation, the fans obviously do not. While the cat calls were highlighted in this article, what about all the support the team received during their recent 3 game road trip, in each venue it almost sounded like a home game. Jarry has played better than Murray and is one of the many reasons the team is in their current position of a top 5 NHL team. We are all proud to be Pens fans, don’t let a period… Read more »

Joy Funk
Joy Funk (@jdfunk90)
1 year ago

Great article. These ‘fans‘ paid for their tickets, but that does not entitle them to turn on and disrespect a guy who has won, twice. A little booing is one thing, but a Bronx cheer done several times is disrespect and shows how spoiled some fans have become.

This team has been remarkable. Their performance has been inspiring in the way they never give up and play for each other. The fans’ performance this season, marked by leaving early and half-hearted cheering even in great times, has been much less so. Do better.

BIG B
BIG B
1 year ago

Get the heck over it.Mock cheers happen in sports and it may make Murray the stronger for it and if it does not then you have a prob bob.Murray was not mock cheered because he let in two early goals, he was mocked for the last three years of frustration with his erratic play between the pipes.He was mocked because he has yet to take any blame for any bad play since he entered the league.That being said this team is too good to be mocked.

Nina Hudock
Nina Hudock
1 year ago

We traveled from Virginia to see our second Pens game this year. It is absolutely inexcusable for fans to mock any of our players. There were many, many supportive fans in the arena. I hope the Pens know that! Pens for life no matter what. Love Murray and the whole Penguins team. Great game boys. Way to rally and persevere.

Keith Potts
Keith Potts
1 year ago

This is a great article. But I believe it may be, if not biased, misguided. Jarry has played better this season. Murray has helped with two Stanley Cup victories. What is past and what is present? What I really like, statistically, is save percentage. In baseball, if you hit 30% you are phenomenal. In hockey, if you do not have a save % over 90%, you do not belong in the NHL. If the Pens get hot and score 8-10 goals / game, and Swiss Cheese Murray allows 5 / game, they win, so you are okay with it. In… Read more »

David Paul Greenawalt
David Paul Greenawalt
1 year ago

Where’s the eyeroll button?

Bk Kean
Bk Kean
1 year ago

So as I’m scrolling through this article, there are advertisements in between paragraphs. One of them is for tickets on StubHub, which is selling tickets starting at $15 to see the Pens in Philly, and $97 to see the Pens play Philly at PPG. For the prices the Pens charge, fans have the right to voice as much displeasure as they’d like.

Big B
Big B
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

No Dan your displeasure with the fans is the heart of the story.Ever since i have followed you the last several years you are always ticked with the fans.Freddie Anderson got the bronx cheer this weekend,Carey Price has gotten it so its not a big deal.I am pretty sure the teams does not want the Pitt media complaining about the paying fans.Mike Jiohnson on leafs lunch several minutes ago said it is not a big deal and it is not as it is a media driven piece of B.S.Ron Cook wrote about it so i know it is meaninless.

James
James
1 year ago

Never been a fan of vocalizing discontent with players with such things as a Bronx cheer. (As a FAN) Maybe a ‘c’mon Murray!’ here and there, or just silence is my preferred way of handling discontent with a players play. I agree 100% that the behavior of the crowd that mocked Matt Murray was a display of petulance and from a seemingly entitled group of fans that need to be called out for their actions. It was absolutely uncalled for. That being said.. You people in the media, (Yes you, Dan, the objective non-fan that you so often claim to… Read more »

E.J.
E.J.
1 year ago

Pittsburgh is notorious for its inability to let go of the past. Smaller markets tend to be that way. This is a Fleury town. Always will be regardless of how many postseason meltdowns he had here. He’s easy to like with his French accent and easy smile and cuddly personality. Murray is short and serious and not a media suck-up, somewhat like Barrasso in that regard. He’s viewed as a ringer here, the new kid who came out of nowhere to steal what should have been Fleury’s all along. So no matter what he does, it will never be good… Read more »

Procinctu (@TheProcinctu)

Eh…the weekend afternoon crowd has a higher percentage of the type of ‘fan’ who is paying 50-100% more to go to a game, as opposed to the other fan who would venture to the games during the worknight doldrums to watch hockey… So take into account their IQ.. hockey and otherwise.. The professionals hopefully have the critical thinking skills to differentiate. Though you say 30 wins couldn’t buy 2 minutes… I can’t forget that you blocked me on Twitter for a reply that was not even to you, but someone else. You asked it be deleted…it was…I’m still blocked. I… Read more »

BIG B
BIG B
1 year ago

Go to the hurt snow flake room to cry.

dweth2
dweth2 (@dweth2)
1 year ago

Be careful how you the media and players react to this. Fans have had enough of the “spoiled” athlete’s disrespecting the flag, ignorant behavior like Brown and Bell, baseball cheating scandal and on and on. Even the knuckleheads on NBC were all over Murray. I love hockey because the players have a team mentality not an individual one. Most of the crap that is present in the other sports has for the most part stayed out of hockey. Murray may or may not have desired that treatment but DO NOT hold the fans responsible or even criticize them. Look how… Read more »

Patrick
Patrick
1 year ago

Dan, I typically give your articles the 1st read on anything regarding the Pens. You and your team are typically very astute and I appreciate the unbiased reporting on the team. The deeper insights are truly appreciated, when competing sites devolve into fan opinions and biases. I have also been a Murray supporter since he started, and have defended him in the face of criticisms from fellow fans. However, this “opinion piece” is too much and about as bad as “bronx-jeers” that occurred at the arena. I understand your frustration, but instead of labeling an entire group of fans as… Read more »

Kyle
Kyle
1 year ago

Dan, first of all I’d like to preface this by saying I have been a Bruins fan all of my life and a goalie for a significant time as well. While it certainly doesn’t compare to the NHL, I’ve been and seen evidence of goalies being subjected to crap like this more times than I would like to admit. I’ve read this article, and a lot of these comments, and while I can’t offer any insight into your previous journalism, I can say that after reading this, I couldn’t just not respond in some small way. This is actually the… Read more »

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