When the Philadelphia Flyers decided to overhaul their roster by trading two of their young faces of the franchise in captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, red flags went up everywhere and it had nothing to do with anything on the ice.
Richards went to Los Angeles and Carter to Columbus in exchange for promising young players Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek, as well as three draft picks.
It may not have been equal value for the pair, but GM Paul Holmgren did better than the initial optics made it seem. But despite the organization's insistance that the deals were hockey-related, the long-standing rumors about the party culture in the locker room, led by Carter and Richards, were being brought to the forefront as Reason No. 1 why they were no longer Flyers.
Dan Gross of the Philadelphia Daily News got to the bottom of those rumors and was told by two unnamed Flyers that the partying lifestyle was the reason for the Carter and Richards deals.
The two players also revealed that head coach Peter Laviolette tried to control the situation in the room by getting his players to abstain from drinking for a month:
Shortly after his arrival in December 2009, coach Peter Laviolette instituted what players came to call the "Dry Island." Laviolette asked team members to commit to not drinking for a month, and each player was asked to write his number on a locker room board as a pledge. No. 17 (Carter) and No. 18 (Richards) were absent from the board on the first Dry Island, as well as the estimated five more times the policy was instituted.
In a phone interview Thursday, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren confirmed that Richards and Carter hadn't put their numbers on the board, but said there had been others who declined. "We carry 23 players and there wasn't 23 numbers up there."
The Flyers organization will never admit if the hard-partying ways were the major factor in breaking up its youth core, but the rumors have persisted for a couple of seasons now and it was only a matter of time before the stuff hit the fan, giving Holmgren an excuse to shake things up not long after Carter and Richards signed lifetime deals.
Chris Pronger's presence in the locker room was also a factor in Richards being shipped to LA. Richards' relationship with the media was like oil and water, not something you want your 26-year old captain to project. Meanwhile, Pronger -- despite his own contentious dealings with the Philly media -- became the go-to guy in the room to talk to when times were tough, not Richards.
The Flyers traded for Pronger in 2009 because of the locker room issues caused by the younger players on the team like Carter and Richards and he'll likely become the team's new captain, signaling Philadelphia heading in a much different direction leadership-wise going forward.
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