The day of June 23, 2011 seemed like any other relatively normal early-summer day. It was sunny. It was warm. It was welcoming. It wasn't for Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, whom the Philadelphia Flyers dealt to the Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets respectively, and reshaped their entire franchise in one fell swoop. Now come the complaints from many Flyers fans who say the team made the wrong moves at the wrong times, as Richards and Carter find themselves four games away from doing something they couldn't do in Philadelphia: hoist a Stanley Cup.
The Kings advanced past the Phoenix Coyotes in five games in the Western Conference Finals, and the alarms were sounded in Philadelphia even though it was just about closing time at any bar in the region. The next morning, plenty of fans woke up and voiced their displeasure. I'm sure a lot of those people didn't watch the Western Conference Finals or a single Los Angeles Kings or Columbus Blue Jackets game this season. If they did, they must be watching a different game.
The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 with a core of young talent and the suddenly-veteran Richards and Carter. They fell short to the Chicago Blackhawks, and life moved on. The fans, fresh off a Stanley Cup run, were excited for the 2010-2011 season. It ended with disappointment, as the Flyers were ousted by the Boston Bruins, the eventual Stanley Cup champs, in the second round. Something had to be done. The reshaping of the franchise began.
Richards was dealt to Los Angeles, Carter to Columbus, and the media frenzy began. Why trade two talented hockey players, many asked? Sayonara, said others. At the time, it looked like the right move from GM Paul Holmgren, and it still is today. The Flyers may not be in the Stanley Cup this season, and right now, that frustrates a lot of Flyers fans. That said, the Flyers received a heck of a haul for Richards: Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, and a second round pick. The Flyers used that pick to acquire Nicklas Grossmann, who bolstered the team's defense in the absence of Chris Pronger. Schenn became an impact player, particularly in the post-season, and Simmonds became an instant fan favorite.
When the Flyers dealt Carter to Columbus, he was nowhere to be found. He apparently went and hid in his beach house down by the shore in New Jersey, and Columbus GM Scott Howson had to go and talk to him and "sell" him on the idea of coming to Columbus. Remember, this was not free agency. This was after a trade. Carter acted like an unprofessional in every sense of the word. At the time, many shrugged it off and said it wasn't a major deal. Come February, Carter found himself on a different hockey team. Riddle me that one. A major summer deal in which the Blue Jackets had to give up Jake Voracek and a first in the draft a few weeks later (which the Flyers used on the impressive Sean Couturier), and he found himself on a different team just 8 months later. Wow. Something went wrong in Columbus. Sure, a lot of that could be due to the fact that the team was so awful.
A lot, in my opinion, had to do with the fact that Jeff Carter never wanted to be a Columbus Blue Jacket. It is a privilege, not a right, to play in the National Hockey League. Carter must have thought it was a right to be on a better team than he was. On February 23rd, Carter and Richards were reunited in Los Angeles. Some thought it was a bad move at the time by Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi, but so far it has paid off for the Kings. That said, the Flyers should stand behind the deals they made. Carter and Richards did not work out in Philadelphia.
It's not like Richards and Carter set the world on fire in 2011-2012. Carter had 25 points in 39 games with Columbus, and dealt with injury problems (a broken foot). Richards had 44 points in 71 games, and dealt with concussion issues in December. When he was on the ice, he was a key piece for the Kings, that much can be said. However, Los Angeles is a great place for Richards. Philadelphia was not. Sometimes, things are meant to be a bit different. Carter and Richards are reunited, and will now compete for another Stanley Cup. After the Flyers drafted both of them in the 2003 draft, there were hopes it would be done in the City of Brotherly Love. If it's done here, it would take a hell of a coincidence and a couple of crazy transactions to get these guys back here. They will now try to do it in a city that hasn't really had much of a love affair for the game of hockey. If they win it all, and if these two play well in the Stanley Cup, they could be part of the brand rebuild for the Kings.
In Philadelphia, it's home again, watching their former teammates go for it all. The Flyers do have a future, though, let's not forget that. Schenn and Simmonds were integral parts of the team this season, and Voracek and Couturier added offensive flair and defensive flair respectively. The Flyers had to move on, as did Carter and Richards. There should be no crying in Philadelphia that two players who couldn't get the job done here might get it done in Los Angeles. If they do, all the power to them. The Flyers got a heck of a haul back for Richards and Carter, and Holmgren should be proud of that. If the players on the ice or the coaching staff can't get things done, it would be hard to blame Holmgren or the front office for trading away two players who simply didn't fit in the Flyers' mold anymore.
Sources: TSN.ca, NHL.com
Victor Filoromo is a born and bred Philadelphia sports fan, and has been through the best and worst of Philadelphia sports. He is a regular contributor to the Yahoo! Contributor Network 's NHL, MLB, and NBA coverage.