Carter & Richards Still Headlines
With anonymous messages about the partying scene in the Philadelphia Flyers’ locker room last year, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were back in the spotlight again on Monday. Philadelphia Daily News writer Dan Gross wrote a gossip column that once again brought the focus of the offseason back to a couple of the NHL’s biggest trades this season. Although the story certainly made some fans around the league raise an eyebrow or two, the idea that partying was the main reason why the two forwards were traded is ridiculous.
Conveniently enough, the storyline of Carter and Richards living it up in the nightlife of Philadelphia is a long and well-known one. It’s one that helped create the division between Richards and members of the local media. It’s one that was supported in reality by the exodus of players that the two young faces of the franchise stayed close with socially. It’s one that people will read and say, ‘Yea, I could see that being the reason they were shopped.’
General manager Paul Holmgren acknowledged the existence of head coach Peter Laviolette’s ‘Dry Island’ institution in the locker room on Monday. Gross’ source maintained that Richards and Carter refused to participate in the exercise. It’s plausible to think that such a refusal could make for a tenuous locker room situation. But it's just as plausible that conflicting personalities in the locker room created a tenuous situation. To portray an anonymous testimony as the lynchpin and main reason why Carter and Richards were sent to Columbus and Los Angeles respectively seems far-fetched.
Perhaps the partying was out of control. Maybe there was a locker room division because of Chris Pronger in a room where Richards should have been calling the shots. It’s possible that they felt that Carter and Richards would never get them closer than the two games away from a Stanley Cup. There are quite a few logical explanations for the actions that took place this summer, and each of them can be disputed by those who oppose them. In actuality, it was most likely a combination of several things that sent the two young forwards elsewhere, but they remain lightning rods because there is no clear reason why they would be traded away in the prime of their careers.
Whatever the reasons, the sources that were willing to throw the two under the bus may serve as an indication of the amount of dissension of the locker room last season. There would be no reason to throw someone under the bus anonymously when that player is in another conference. In the end, it makes no difference. Nothing will bring Carter and Richards back to Philadelphia unless it’s a game on the schedule. They’re gone. Whatever substantiated the necessity for a trade is anyone’s guess, and sometimes that anyone will report something that can capitalize on the thirst of the fans for any kind of news in a purgatory state of summer without hockey.
The real reason won’t be discovered for years, if at all. And it may not matter to anyone at the point that it’s discovered. Perhaps it will serve as a reminder that everyone looks back at and chuckles about. Or it could act as a fuse that lights the Flyers fan base on fire over what-could-have-beens. The only thing that can be pinpointed is that the Flyers organization didn't want Carter and Richards to be a part of their future. Maybe it's just that simple.
Regardless, a sordid chapter in Flyers history has come to a close. It may well be the final sentence in that chapter, written by a major newspaper’s ‘gossip’ columnist who relayed two anonymous former teammates throwing some counterparts and a locker room policy under the bus.
Perhaps a new chapter may not be so bad after all.