These are the sorts of text exchanges my buddy Matt and I have been having over the last few months, since the Flyers were, for the second year in a row, eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
Matt, who once wrote a post for this site entitled Why Mike Richards is the Perfect Captain for the Flyers, pivoted and shape-shifted more quickly than Paul Holmgren at a press conference almost instantly when the Flyers traded Richards and Jeff Carter.
Like many, Matt believed (and still believes) that the trades were the right moves for the organization that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since seven years before he was born– they acquired young talent, unloaded disinterested forwards, and got that goalie the team finally wanted yada yada yada something about this team is built to win.
I disagree with Matt. While I see his points, and acknowledge that the Flyers acquired a lot of young talent last summer, I am irked by yet another reactive decision by the organization that traded away six draft picks who played in the most recent Stanley Cup Finals.
And thus is the divide.
Ever since June 23, 2011, the day Holmgren shot and killed Richards and Carter – who, combined, were signed to 23-year, $127 million contracts – there has been a rift amongst Flyers fans.
In the far corner, Matt’s corner, wearing the Orange and Black trunks, are those who, from the moment the trades were made, championed the deals. They believed unloading two massive contracts, acquiring young talent and an all-world goalie was an absolute win for the Flyers. And they still feel this way.
In the other corner, wearing khakis and J. Crew sweatshirts (?), is everybody else. Those who, understandably, were irritated by what seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to a bad season, and whose feelings of dismay only worsened when Richards and Carter wound up in LA and did this earlier this week:
There’s a battle between those two groups of fans. I sit firmly in the latter corner, but acknowledge the points made by the Type OB fans, even though I may have called Matt a “dope.”
Me and him go way back and used to fight over which KaZaA tunes to play in our dorm room while we were roommates during our freshman year at Villanova. I once threw a notebook at his head and organized an awkward and drunken (I believe I was standing on a chair, swigging from a bottle of Vladimir) floor meeting to address an issue that had come up with our neighbor, who had hooked up with some B-lister Matt was getting with. Or had tried to get with. Whatever.
So we go way back, Matt and I. Our sports discussions are always spirited, but fun. And I haven’t thrown a notebook at this head since 2002.
As for the rest of you… we don’t know each other. And that means the subject of Richards and Carter quickly turns ugly and personal, especially on Twitter:
And in the comments:
You make yourself look so stupid with this post. Numerous time throughout the year you applauded the trade. Now all the sudden it is not so good. The Kings win the Cup regardless of the trade for Richie and Carts. Anyone can win a cup when your goalie is that much better then anyone else's
Kyle left college knowing 2 things. 1)The Flyers had a core of young talent and 2) His growing curiosity in men needed to be unleashed…In comes his creation of CrossingBroad.com. Kyle was a big fan of Philly sports and handy with computers so he decided to blog about it. Using his pedigree setting up MLB.com shopping carts, never being an athlete and lack of professional journalism experience, he created a website that finally gave him the attention he so desperately needed. The problem was Kyle soon realized he wasn't smarter, or faster out there than any other idiot out there with a laptop that called themselves a member of the media…his blog wasn't going well either, but Kyle had something up his sleeve! He was going to find pictures of his favorite athletes on Facebook and twitter! And steal intellectual property from websites like deadspin and create "TMZPhillyAthletes."
And of the less eloquent variety:
If kept them here we would have lost to Shittsburgh in round 1. Thats all their is too it.
So knock it the fuck off Kyle.
All because of a disagreement over the third most popular sports team in the city.
Anyway, insane people aside, I respect the opinions of those who applaud the moves: The Flyers do, in fact, get a number of young, talented players in return or as a result of the trades– Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Ilya Bryzgalov.
Richards and Carter were a bit of a problem off the ice. Reports range from them being awful with the media to taking prescription pain killers, and everywhere in between. Rumors go even further, saying the players were into recreational drug use. And, it seems, there was a disconnect between those two, the coaches and front office. So, trading them, at least on the surface, wasn’t an awful idea. Plus it freed up money to get a goalie.
I get all that.
But I also think that the out-of-nowhereness of the trades, especially after Carter had just been signed to an 11-year contract, was troubling. For five years, the team had touted Richards and Carter as the future. Yet after one early-round exit, they were traded.
To me, it was all too reactive, and I think Richards and Carter winning a Stanley Cup, playing major roles with the Kings, proves that they were quite capable of thriving in, or assimilating into, a winning environment. Or whatever hokey phrase you want to use. But, when those points are brought up, there seems to be head-scratching stock rebuttals, as reflexive as the Flyers’ instinct to trade their two star players.
Former Devil Bobby Holik thinks so too. He wrote this on his blog yesterday:
I read reports about the Flyers organization being happy the Kings won, and even rooting for them after their second round loss to the Devils. I can't see how the Flyers are happy. How could a team who decided Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Simon Gagne couldn't win in orange and black, feel great about guys who won the second they left Philadelphia?
I just cannot believe it for a second. I played in the NHL for almost two decades and never came across such a "friendly" attitude. NHL hockey is a tough and very competitive business.
How can the media not call out the Flyers for trading these guys? After all, it was a sudden shift from when they drafted them, nurtured them, and then built a Stanley Cup Final team around these players. Two years later, they got rid of them, and they go on to win. I respect the media, but they need to question Paul Holmgren and Ed Snider, because it shows a deficiency in the way the Flyers conduct their business.
We may not be media, in the traditional sense, but a lot of you read this site. So let’s do that. Let’s call out the Flyers for trading these players.
It is with great pleasure that I give you The Definitive Mike Richards and Jeff Carter Argument Guide – a crib sheet, if you will – to combat your enemy, no matter which corner you sit in. But mostly if you sit in mine.
Since Christian Bale is a badass motherfucker and The Prestige is one the best movies ever, I shall present the arguments to you in the form of a 19th century magic trick.
Henceforth we go!