So I don’t know if you were on Twitter last Thursday and happen to follow two dozen Philadelphia sports blogs like a normal adult with his priorities straight, but if you were, you got to see it explode. Congratulations.
It was no secret the Flyers would be making some inevitable moves, and not knowing exactly what the club planned to do gave those of us in the blogosphere plenty of ammo to wave our theories in the air and fire blindly. We need a goalie! Trade Carter! Ditch Hartnell! Sell our rights to the color orange! Its the only way!
Well, the Flyers made their move, and like many of the moves they’ve made in recent years, they jarred the franchise like a pair of concussion grenades.
Signing a contract for $58 million and more than a decade of hockey-playing seems like a pretty certain indication of job security, and that’s exactly what Jeff Carter signed last year. And while he and his captain, Mike Richards, weren’t perfect, no one saw this coming.
Bitching stems from a place of familiarity. Carter and Richards may have been flawed (they were), but they were Flyers; in a way, we focused on their flatlines because we wanted them to be perfect. They were our lifers–probably going to retire in orange and black–so we felt free to simultaneously admire and despise them. In other, more teeth-breakingly furious ways, we wondered where Carter went during the playoffs, or what exactly the ‘C’ stood for on Richards’ jersey.
After confirming that the Blue Jackets are a hockey team and not an accapella group and that Columbus is a city and not a campfire encircled by covered wagons, Carter was/is probably still pissed. Richards, after as gracious a farewell as Twitter would allow, eventually was also pissed. I assume being manhandled by Paul Holmgren and not knowing about it until after it happened comes with several stages of disgust.
There were always complaints about the walls put up in the locker room between the frolicking youngbloods and the grizzled old men, but they seemed to surface mostly when the team was losing, as if local media outlets were thumbing through their archives to repeat the same complaints every time the team sunk into a slump.
Regardless of this issue, both claimed they were told the threat of a trade was a nonexistent–seemingly while Holmgren was in the back, on the phone with the hamster in a wheel that keeps the Blue Jackets’ lights on. Holmgren claims he never made such a promise to either player, but even so… signing an 11-year contract (like Carter’s) seems to indicate a desire to keep somebody around.
There are still faces on the franchise, despite two of them being ripped off; better, uglier faces, like Chris Pronger’s, who looks like a townie from the ‘burbs who actually made good on his claims to greatness. There are some new faces, injecting (further) youth into the squad and utilizing the novel concept of “a goalie in the net.” And now, we get to spend the summer guessing how good or terrible this team will be without Richards and Carter (and now Carcillo and Powe). If we couldn’t do that, I’m pretty sure the internet wouldn’t exist.