No player or coach would confirm the incident post-game – or even suggest malice was intended – but by the third period, the Flyers laid down towels in the hallway to prevent the reoccurrence.
“We had skate issues, that’s for sure,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “You know, we lost [Mike] Richards three times, Kimmo [Timonen] two times, and I don’t know.
“I’m not familiar with the rumors, but we certainly had some skate issues.”
Scott Hartnell, Darroll Powe and Claude Giroux also missed shifts during the game to have their skates repaired.
“I think it was five times that I had to get my skates sharpened tonight, which is obviously a bit much,” Richards said. “I’m not sure [what happened]. I didn't check the carpet for [sand].”
Richards said Flyers assistant equipment manager Harry Bricker, the man in charge of skate sharpening, said the substance on the floor was “a little too big for being sand pellets.”
One player told the Daily News he had “never seen anything like it,” and confirmed the accuracy of McGuire's report.
Off-ice gamesmanship is nothing new in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for road teams. Players and coaches have long complained about having the hot water turned off for the post-game shower or even about between-period stat sheets not being available. But having an off-ice issue like that turn into an on-ice problem is a rarity.
To the Flyers’ credit, no player or coach was willing to point a finger and say the mystery substance was anything more than a mistake.
Were the Canadiens trying to sabotage the Flyers’ efforts before the game even began Saturday?
That’s a question that may never be answered, but will certainly be a topic of debate for some time to come.
Apparently a bucket of sand, or some other “sandy” substance was emptied onto the floor outside the door of the Flyers’ locker room and down toward the tunnel.
It caused several players’ skate blades to dull quickly and as such a handful had to go off the ice during their 3-0 win over the Canadiens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals – some of them repeatedly – for maintenance.
Mike Richards left the ice three times with skate issues. Kimmo Timonen did so twice. Other players on the grainy train were Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe.
The Flyers did some maintenance of their own to try to keep the granules off the blades by putting a series of towels down, but it was only partially effective.
How the sand got there is an unknown. Obviously, no one from the Canadiens would take ownership and no one from the Flyers chose to be accusatory, as many of them feigned ignorance to the concept of their Bell Centre locker room being turned into beachfront property.
However, when given the opportunity to speak on the condition of anonymity, several members of the Flyers’ organization had a lot to say about what may or may not have taken place.
“I don’t know where it came from,” said one player. “But it was definitely getting in our skates. To have that many skate problems in one game is rare, no, more than rare, it’s unheard of.”
Another player said he doesn’t know who was responsible for the sand but added “you never know to what length some people will go. Teams are always looking for any edge they can get, so you never know if this was one of those situations.”