Top Ten Philly Sports Moments of 2011: #1 Paul Holmgren Shoots Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in a Blaze of Glory
Read the full top ten list here.
On June 22, just a day before the Flyers traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, I received an email from a valued CB reader. He forwarded me a conversation he had with [a hockey person] who told him that the Flyers could trade their captain and leading scorer.
I absorbed it, but then did what I do with most speculatory emails: filed it away.
That night, CB contributor Ryan Gillon, who moonlights in various sports-related positions, sent me a text saying that he heard from a very connected person that the Flyers may trade Mike Richards.
I laughed. I trusted him and his source, but I laughed.
Ryan and I exchanged a few texts, mostly talking about how it was too crazy to put on site. A part of me wanted to do it, but it was too vague, too improbable. Neither source was reliable enough.
18 hours later, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were in tears.
I should have posted those tips.
Whether you agreed or disagreed with the Flyers' offseason moves, one thing is clear: trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and signing Ilya Bryzgalov, Max Talbot, Jaromir Jagr and others, signaled the most significant organizational shift for the Flyers since they acquired Eric Lindros.
Discarding their captain – for whichever reason you choose to believe – and then signing a Russian goaltender was just about the most surprising thing the Flyers could have done.
Richards was labeled the next Bobby Clarke. Ed Snider loves Bobby Clarke. Snider used to hate goaltenders… and Russians– now he has two of them.
The Flyers went from inking Richards, the captain, and Carter, one of the best goal scorers in the league, to decade-long contracts to throwing both under the bus for real or perceived off-ice reasons.
In 2010, the team came closer to winning a Stanley Cup than they had in the previous 23 years. A season later, the captain, leading goal scorer and both playoff goaltenders were off the roster.
Six months later– today, the Flyers are near the top of the conference, two points behind the Rangers, whom they’ll play in the Winter Classic… with the Russian goaltender drinking tea on the bench and Jagr as the team’s third leading scorer.
Yeah, things changed a bit.
And no move or moment in 2011 was more significant or impactful than the Flyers blowing up and reassembling their franchise over the course of a week.
Ladies and gentlemen, your number one Philly sports moment of 2011: Paul Holmgren shooting Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.