With all that has transpired with the Flyers recently, I’ve seen a lot of talk about how the Cup will definitely come back to Philadelphia if they do wind up acquiring Shea Weber. Now, there is no question that, barring injury, Weber would be a phenomenal addition not only to the defensive corps, but to the team as a whole. He has proven himself as a leader as captain of the Nashville Predators, and he’s a terrific player. That’s not what I’m about to question.
My question is, if the Flyers don’t bring a Stanley Cup home this year, or next year, when does the focus shift away from the players themselves? Last year, the Flyers were “absolutely” going to win the Cup, because they finally had a great goalie. Sure, Bryzgalov didn’t have a terrific season, but it doesn’t all rest on him. The team got rid of the two “bums” who were preventing the organization from winning a Cup. Irony of all ironies, those two “bums” now have a Cup of their own. Obviously, Richards and Carter were not the only ones contributing to the Kings. But even still. It’s always about the players, it seems, and I wonder when – if ever – that will change.
I heard a rumor that the team was planning on extending Peter Laviolette’s contract soon. While Lavi was truly brilliant during the 2010 playoffs, I didn’t see much of that last season. Now, everyone has an off season or two and I’m not suggesting that the team fire the guy. There’s no reason to. All I’m saying is, will the blame ever be placed on anyone outside of the actual team roster?
Let’s go above Lavi for a second. Let’s look at Paul Holmgren.
Homer is known for making big splashes and big moves. Signing Shea Weber to an offer sheet was a ballsy move, and I give Holmgren a lot of credit for that. But what if that backfires? What if Weber has an off season? Or what if what he brings to the team just isn’t enough? Will it be Weber’s/the team’s fault, or will it be the management’s fault? I’m not calling for the organization to axe Homer, either. Just merely pointing out that at a certain point, if your system is not working, you need to look deeper than just the guys out there on the ice.
In a city where people are so quick to demand that the Eagles fire Andy Reid after a bad game or two, it’s hard for me to understand why they’re not equally so quick to demand that when the Flyers are in a bad stretch.
Is the endgame just around the corner for the Flyers? Will this be the year that they win it all? It could be. Adding Shea Weber would definitely help. There are rumors that Shane Doan could sign in Philadelphia. That’d be another great boost for the team. But if it’s not enough, when and where is the line drawn?
As a Flyers fan, this has been one “interesting” offseason, to say the least. We watched our roster get blown apart, and one by one, new pieces were added to fill the holes. Some of us have moved past the initial shock and are ready to watch this new Flyers team in action. Others – like myself – are still feeling the effects of the trades (two in particular, I’m sure everyone knows my stance on those at this point) and are uneasy about the new squad. There are doubts about chemistry, and about expectations. Will Ilya Bryzgalov really solve all of the team’s problems? Will Chris Pronger stay healthy long enough to make a big impact on defense? Will Brayden Schenn play up to all that is expected of him?
I guess with any team, and with any roster, there are always questions plaguing fans’ minds. Even fans in Boston must wonder if the Bruins can dominate again like they did last season, or if they’ll suffer a similar fate like the Chicago Blackhawks did when they struggled for quite some time last season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. I doubt any team’s fans have more questions than the Flyers, though.
I digress. Questions are not the point of this post. What I really want to express is that while I’m not happy about the majority of the Flyers’ offseason moves, I’m slowly starting to feel excitement about the season starting up again in just a few short weeks. A lot of people I know root for a team and not for the people that make up the team. I’m the opposite. I love the Flyers because I’m from Philadelphia and grew up watching them, but I loved this more recent Flyers team because of the personalities of everyone on the roster. I loved the brotherhood and the camaraderie. I loved the quirks, and the pranks, and the dumb jokes. So much of that has changed with the departure of quite a few players. Will the new guys make places for themselves in the brotherhood? Will the chemistry somehow be the same?
A few weeks ago, I didn’t think it was possible. I’m still not 100% sure, but everyone will have to adjust, right? I mean, that just makes sense. It’s not like the locker room will be divided between the old guys and the new guys. It’s just weird to think about.
I’ve digressed again. I apologize.
Over the last few days, teams around the NHL have started painting logos on the ice in preparation for the start of preseason hockey. Seeing pictures on Twitter have given me the chills – and, no, that’s not a pun about ice. It’s a reminder that hockey is just a little ways away at this point. When the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs back in May, we all thought it was going to feel like a lifetime until they took the ice once again. In some ways, it has felt like a very long time. In others, it seems that the last few months have just flown by.
This offseason has been a rough one in so many ways. The shake-up of the Flyers roster is so trivial compared to the devastating losses the hockey family and community have suffered over the past few months. Players will head into this season with heavy hearts. They’ll also head into this season with big dreams, as they do every year. Players and fans alike will pray for a Stanley Cup for their respective team. The thought of sitting in front of a TV in April watching the Flyers clinch a playoff spot gives me goosebumps, new Flyers or old Flyers.
Would I love to see Gagne and Richards win the Cup in LA? Yes. I’d love it. Will I always wish that the two of them, along with Carter, could have won the Cup here in Philly, together? Absolutely. But does that mean I’m not going to be excited if the new Flyers go all the way? Hell no. There are guys on this team that I would be so happy for if they won the cup. There are guys on other teams that I would be so happy for if they won the cup. But I would be absolutely elated to be out on Broad Street one day in June, celebrating a Stanley Cup victory with a big parade and millions of my fellow Flyers fans.
I’m singing a slightly different tune than I was a few weeks ago. I still don’t feel completely attached to the revamped Flyers. I still haven’t read much about the new guys. But as a whole, I feel excited and anxious. I’m excited for a new season to begin, and I’m excited to see what this new team can do together. I’m still bitter about the Richards and Carter trades, and I don’t know when I’ll be over it, but that doesn’t change the fact that as opening night approaches, I’m getting more and more excited for Flyers hockey.
On Monday, Rick Rypien of the Vancouver Canucks was found dead in his Alberta home. He was 27 years old. As of right now, police are investigating it as a suicide.
I don’t know much about Rypien, and I won’t pretend to. All I really know about him is that he was a hockey player, not necessarily young in the game but young in life, and that he was taken from the world much too soon. When we idolize athletes or celebrities, we sometimes tend to forget that they deal with struggles just like everyone else does. Some of them may have more money or fame than we could even imagine having, but that doesn’t mean that their personal issues just disappear. They can’t pay off their personal demons to take a hike.
Rypien had a history of personal issues. From what I’ve read, he suffered from some mental health issues, and possibly even some anger issues (based on his altercation with a Minnesota Wild fan last season). Whatever the issues were, they were obviously bad enough to make Rypien feel like there was no other way out but to end his life (if that is what the police find happened after they’ve concluded their investigation). It’s a scary thought for anyone, whether they’re an athlete, a celebrity, or more of a regular old John or Jane.
There are programs provided to players. They have teammates, friends, family members, acquaintances, all of these people who can offer support. It’s not talked about often, but I’m sure there are plenty of other athletes who suffer from some sort of mental illness. They may fight their battles privately, but that doesn’t mean that those battles don’t exist.
When things like this happen, we all talk about spreading the word and offering a helping hand to anyone who may be feeling alone. There’s so much talk, but there needs to be more action. Even if you don’t think people need or want to hear it, reminding those close to you how much they mean to you is important to do. Not just on days like today, but every day. I’m not standing on a soapbox trying to preach, but it’s so important that no one feels alone. Whether they’re dealing with some personal issues that you may not know about, they still need to know people are there for them. Even if it’s not on the outside, it’s on the inside. We all need to work on being more conscious of that, myself included.
Rest in peace, Rick. I’m sorry that it took your death for me to learn more about your life. I only hope that you have found peace, and that others can find the strength and the support (whether it comes from inside or from an external source) to fight through the storm and quell the voices and thoughts of their personal demons.
I don’t even know where to start with this. I didn’t think I’d be defending Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, still, a month after they’d been traded. But I feel like I should, because their names are being dragged through the mud, yet again.
The newest “story” that broke this week is that Richards’ and Carter’s excessive partying is the reason they were both traded away this offseason. The story was reported by Philly.com’s GOSSIP columnist Dan Gross. Apparently, two “unnamed” teammates told Gross about a “dry island” implemented by Peter Laviolette, a program where Laviolette asked players to abstain from drinking for a month. There was a board set up in the locker room for players to put their name on if they were participating in the program. According to the two unnamed players, Richards and Carter never put their names on there.
What Gross’ article failed to mention was that there were a number of players who didn’t put their name on that board. Paul Holmgren said that there were 23 guys on the team, and not 23 names on that board. Holmgren also mentioned that he was upset that confidential locker room information had been leaked.
While I have my own opinions about those two unnamed players leaking locker room information, that isn’t the point of this post. I simply have a lot to say about this picture that’s been painted of Richards and Carter being selfish alcoholics.
Now, I’m not denying that Richards and Carter are known for drinking and partying. These rumors and stories and drama have all been around for years. However, to let their off-ice extracurriculars overshadow their on-ice contributions is a total joke. If they had underperformed, that’s one thing. But we’re talking about the team’s leading goal scorer for three years in a row and the team’s captain who played this entire last season with a broken wrist. Neither were ever benched (aside from when the flu was going around the team) or missed a game (except for when Carter’s grandfather passed away). They didn’t come to practice hungover. They didn’t get belligerent on the ice or in the locker room. And, to be perfectly honest, maybe we should have demanded a urine test from all of the players toward the end of the regular season and throughout the playoffs, because no one was really contributing. Unless, of course, somehow Jeff and Mike passed on their drunkenness to their teammates just by playing alongside them.
The NHL has a substance abuse treatment program. If these guys had serious problems, why wouldn’t an organization that is widely known to take care of their players try and get them some help? And why would other teams willingly welcome these guys to their organizations if their “problems” were so major. It’s not like Columbus or LA gave up bags of pucks for these guys. They gave the Flyers some good talent. Why would they, if all they were getting back were addicts?
Why wasn’t Richards stripped of his captaincy if he had such problems? Why did it take years since these rumors about guys partying came out for them to trade Carter and Richards away? I’m not saying that off-ice things absolutely didn’t factor in to these trades, but all of this is being so overblown.
Side note: if the Flyers are looking to get rid of the party atmosphere, I hope they plan on arranging for a babysitter for Max Talbot. I hope they keep their eyes on guys like Claude Giroux and JVR, the new faces of the franchise, who certainly have partook in similar off-ice activities as – and sometimes even with – Richards and Carter. Or maybe they’ll stop scapegoating (We can only hope). As @SethDH said earlier, I just like to see the Flyers be successful and win. The off-ice stuff is very secondary.
I honestly believe that Columbus and LA are very lucky to have Carter and Richards now. I hope that fans and media alike in those towns allow the guys to let their SKILLS, not their off-ice activities, speak for them.
It’s been almost a month since The Incident. We’ve had time to let everything sink in and sort out our emotions. I don’t know about you, but I’m no happier about the Richards & Carter trades than I was 25 days ago. However, I’m not going to get into that right now. Some things can be run into the ground, and I’m about halfway to China with all of the talking I’ve done about those trades.
My concern lies now with this “new” Flyers team. Sure, there are a number of guys still on the team that have been in Philly for a year or a few years at this point, but there’s no getting around the fact that with Richards and Carter gone, it’s a completely different-looking team. Of course, the management hopes that it’s a completely different-playing team as well (or so it would seem). They’re hoping that the new guys will fit in on the new lines and will click instantly with their linemates. Best case scenario, that happens. Worst case scenario, certain lines don’t click well and they’re unsuccessful. That’s what I’m concerned about.
One of my favorite things about a team is the chemistry between the players and how well they work together. Going from the 2009-2010 season to the 2010-2011 season, there weren’t too many changes, aside from the goaltending situation (as usual) and the loss of Gagne. A couple of new guys came along, and some of them worked out really well (hello, Andrej Mezsaros). Then you had the guys like Nik Zherdev, who.. I would say didn’t really work out that well. Zherdev didn’t click with anyone, it seemed, and though he had his rare moments where he was able to contribute, he felt a little like an outcast (to me, at least). When the Flyers picked up Kris Versteeg in February, there were high expectations that he’d click really well with Richards and they’d be a success. As we saw, that didn’t happen. The first glimmer of success they found happened late in the playoffs, and it was too late to make any sort of difference. There’s clearly a correlation between chemistry and success, and I’m concerned that the “new” Flyers are going to lack that chemistry.
Changing a team’s roster between a few guys is one thing. But getting rid of ten guys at one time (and maybe even more, considering the continued rumors of possibly moving Bobrovsky) is a HUGE gamble. The team has been completely blown apart. Now, they’re looking to Giroux and JVR to lead the team like Richards and Carter did. They’re more than likely about to name Chris Pronger captain, which is clearly a huge departure from Mike Richards (and not necessarily a better idea). Schenn and Simmonds and Voracek are now the future of this Flyers team, and I just hope that the future looks as bright as the organization hopes. You can’t force chemistry. You can’t force lines to click if it’s just not happening. The Hartnell-Briere-Leino line was a wonderful surprise; what line will surprise us this season? Will any?
I know I’m more than likely just being negative because I don’t agree with most of the offseason decisions the organization made, but you have to wonder what this team will look like once the new squad takes the ice. If in the next two years, they bring the Stanley Cup back to Philadelphia, wonderful. I’ll be bawling my eyes out when the final seconds run out and the team starts their celebratory lap around the ice. But if they don’t, will you wonder what if?
What if they’d kept Richards? Or Carter? What if they hadn’t blown the team apart and put together this new one? Would this city have a Cup then?
We’ll never know, but I’ll always wonder.
It’s a sad state of affairs when you can’t trust the media. This isn’t really anything new. For years, people have learned that even though someone may be a credentialed member of the press, they’re not necessarily trustworthy (hello, Fox News). However, over the last few months, I’ve recognized as a Flyers fan – well, actually, as a Philly sports fan in general – that some of the team’s beat writers just cannot be trusted. There is one member of the Philly sports media in particular that just pisses me off to no end, and if you know me well, you’ve probably heard me bitch and rant about this media member. Integrity is something that is really important to me, and especially as a writer myself, and when a guy shows a lack of integrity, it sucks. How does a guy blatantly deny that he printed a false story to the face of the subject of said story, when everyone knows that he wrote it? But I’m not even going to venture far into my Carchidi dislike (oops, did I write his name out? Oh well). He isn’t the target of this post, though he’s related.
What’s the first conclusion everyone jumps to when a team is struggling? Let’s say, for example, the Flyers. When they were struggling a few years back, it was apparently because Jeff Carter slept with Scott Hartnell’s wife. Hartnell defended his teammate, and there was never any proof that this actually took place, but people still allude to it today. When they were struggling earlier in the season, it was because Chris Pronger and Mike Richards hated one another. Now, were any of us in the locker room to witness altercations between Pronger and Richards? We weren’t, but apparently some of these guys witnessed it. We wouldn’t have any knowledge of a possible rift in the locker room without media members talking about it. Players denied it, but writers would still write about it. Conspiracy theories would come to light and blow Twitter up every once in a while.
Of course there are going to be issues between players from time to time. When you have a team like the Flyers, a mix of veterans and younger guys, sometimes their styles are going to clash. That doesn’t mean that they all hate one another. You never heard about the hate when the team was playing well. Apparently everyone kissed and made up during that time.
This week, both Ian Laperierre and Chris Pronger said that the media created these rifts in the locker room, that nothing was ever out of hand, and certainly nothing big enough to jeopardize the team’s chances of winning. We still don’t know exactly WHAT went wrong for the Flyers at the end of the season and the playoffs, but everyone just assumed it was a fight between players, or bad leadership, or who knows. Nothing was proven, but we just assume it.
As fans, most of us on the outside looking in, we turn to beat writers and reporters to find out what’s going on with a team. We trust them. But that trust has been broken as of late. When players call out a certain guy, there’s a reason for it. Do I believe that Mike Richards has a personal vendetta against Tim Panaccio? Not really. I just think he dislikes the guy because Tim has had plenty to say about Richie in the past, some of what is – according to Richards – untrue. Everyone reamed out Mike for not talking to the media much, but can we really blame him? People will say he’s a whiner and needs to grow up, but I know how I’d feel if someone disrespected me and spread lies about me. I don’t care if I’m making $80 a week or $8 million; if someone disrespects me, I’m not bending over backwards to give them a quote or some information that they’ll ultimately twist into something that I never said just to cause controversy.
I understand the need to generate page views and have your name out there for exposure, I do. But, come on. Some of these beat writers are talented and don’t need to stir up drama for that kind of exposure. I’d rather be known for writing a true story than, say, writing one on a controversial subject. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m a sucker. But I’d rather be a sucker than be without integrity.
The last few days have been pretty crazy in Flyers world. No, I’m not over either one of the trades, and I’m not going to be happy about it for a while. Of course I want the team to win, and I hope that they’ll be able to do so with the new acquisitions, but I hate the idea of a Flyers team without Carter and Richards. I can’t imagine a Flyers team without Carter and Richards. Now, I’m not an idiot and I know that the team will go on without these guys. But it just sucks. All of it. How it went down, that it happened, all of it. Maybe when the anger and shock dissipates, I’ll be able to see things more clearly. I’ll recognize that these moves were good ones and will help the team in the future. But right now? The shock and disappointment and bad feelings remain, four days later.
I grew up watching the Flyers, but I wasn’t a huge hockey fan until a few years ago. I was a casual fan for a few years, never paying too much attention but trying my best. Then, towards the end of the 2008-2009 season, I started to get into it a little more. The next season, well, I was all in. I learned about the players and took the time to learn about the history that I didn’t know about, and I grew to really love the team. The only Flyers team I really knew was the team of the last few years.
Anyone who knows me knows how devastated I was when Simon Gagne was traded last year. I remember when the Flyers drafted him. I was a little girl back then, and thought he was adorable, but when I started paying more attention to the game as I got older, I fell in love with the way he played, with the class he carried himself with, and, yes, I did still find him dreamy, but, whatever. That’s not why I love him as a player. It was like someone ripped my heart out, as overdramatic as that might sound. It took me a long time to get over the fact that he was no longer a Flyer, and I’m still dreaming of the day when he comes back here. But I supported him on the Lightning, and will support him with whatever team he plays for this coming season.
Anyway, back to Carter and Richards. It’s hard for me to explain why I feel so attached to them. Maybe because they were coming up with the Flyers when I was getting more into them. Richie was the captain by the time I started really paying attention, and I paid a lot of attention to him because of his role on the team. I read interviews, I watched YouTubes (come on, how funny is the fishing special? Or the tour of the Palms hotel?), I learned more about him as a person, not just a player. But I liked the way he played. People will disagree with me, but I think the guy played his heart out. He wasn’t vocal about it, but you somehow just knew that he carried the burden when the team was struggling and you knew that he wanted the team to succeed. He was down on himself when he didn’t contribute. He didn’t place blame on others. I think that a lot of things factored into the team trading him, but I don’t believe for a minute that he was a bad leader. Things fell into place in certain ways, but he’s not the scapegoat that everyone has made him out to be.
As for Carter, well, that one hurts. I, along with many others, would joke about his off-ice antics, but this past season, I really focused my attention on his style of play. Back in February, I wrote a piece for Philly Sports Daily about how he was quietly having a great season. He became a better player defensively, he was taking more shots. At a point during the playoffs, he was the ONLY one taking shots. People gave him shit for something or another all the time, but I have and will continue to defend him. He’s a great player, and he contributed a ton to the team. I’ll never forget that.
I think the worst of it all, for me, is the fact that the two of them are not only no longer Flyers, but they’re no longer teammates. These guys came up together, have been friends for over ten years, and thought they’d be Flyers, together, for the entire duration of their careers. They wanted to be here. They were told they’d stay here. Then, suddenly, they were shipped off. So much for loyalty to your players, hm? These guys are human. They’re not sacks of cash skating around out there. They’re people before they’re players.
So now people are giving Jeff shit for not talking to the media and not really talking to anyone. God forbid a 26-year-old who intended on playing his entire career in Philadelphia is upset about being traded. I forgot that a person’s feelings don’t count anymore once they sign a contract. Something tells me he’s trying to figure out the right thing to say so as to avoid saying something he’ll regret later.
Do I think it makes him look bad? Yeah, but I don’t really think he cares. The guy is clearly devastated and needs some time. It’s the summer. It’s the offseason. He’ll make his remarks when he’s ready. It’s pretty unbelievable to me that some Flyers fans think he’s being a baby when he clearly loved being here and wanted to stay here. But, whatever. To each their own. I’m trying hard to ignore what’s being said on the internet, but it’s tough. I want to defend him. I want to defend the both of them. I think that this whole thing sucks, and I don’t know when I’ll feel differently. Right now, I still feel pretty hollow. The sting is gone, but the feeling of loss will remain for a while.