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Kings winning Stanley Cup would prove there's no justice in Philadelphia sports universe

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Now that the Flyers are out of the playoffs, a portion of the team's fan base has taken a rooting interest in Flyers-West- also known as the Los Angeles Kings. Photo: Andy Clark/Reuters

Sure, Flyers legend Ron Hextall is the King’s VP, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams are there too, and former Flyers coach John Stevens is an assistant coach.

While some Flyers fans claim they’re happy to support the Kings in their quest for the Stanley Cup, there is no way in God’s green earth I can support toxic twins/former Flyers captian Mike Richards and his former Flyers/current Kings teammate Jeff Carter rubbing it in the faces of Philly fans everywhere if their team wins it all.

Call me a cynical, bitter Philly sports fan, but have fans in this town become so soft that they’re resigned to the fact that the Flyers might never win a cup in our lifetime, so they have to make themselves feel better and root for ex-players who were banished out of town? Does anyone realize how much this will sting?

Prior to their respective trades last summer, there had been rumors for quite some time about the reported tensions in the Philadelphia Flyers’ locker room involving Richards and Carter. Some had those two divided against the entire locker room. Some say it was between the veterans, possibly the rookies, and/or veteran defenseman Chris Pronger.

‘Carts’ and ‘Richie’ officially supplanted Pat Burrell (yes, you needed two men to replace ‘Pat the Bat’) as the new midnight mayors of Center City upon their arrival in Philadelphia. To be fair, Carter and Richards were young, rich athletes in a major market who liked to party, and you really can’t fault them for that.

However, with big money contracts come big expectations. And when the cross-town rival Pittsburgh Penguins’ two young stars (Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin) were beating the Flyers in the playoffs and going to Stanley Cups, the pressure mounted even more on Carter and Richards to step up when it counted. The Flyers’ lackluster play eventually cost Stevens his job at the end of 2009. Moreover, there seemed to be a clash of personalities between Richards and new assistant captain Pronger, who claimed Richards style of leadership was too laid back. Things seemingly cooled off during the Flyers’ improbable Stanley Cup run in 2010. However, Carter’s ‘flail’ at the potential game-winning goal in overtime of Game 6 of the series cost the Flyers a shot at Game 7, as they lost the game and the Cup moments later. This is something die-hard Flyers fans have never forgotten.

A Stanley Cup appearance didn’t make Richards’ relationship with the media any better the next year, and rumors again resurfaced of disruption in the locker room. Then there was ‘Dry Island,’ which new coach Peter Laviolette initiated shortly after his arrival. You can read about it here. I’m not saying that was one of the reasons for their exile out of town, but Laviolette could not have been happy that two of his best players who were supposed to set an example weren’t on that list. In the playoffs, the Flyers were swept by the Bruins in the second round, and it didn’t take a genius to realize that something had to give. Even though GM Paul Holmgren defended Richards when tensions were high, his dealings with the media had gone from uneasy to worse, and his relationship with Laviolette was labelled as a ‘work in progress.’ Although Richards’ effort on the ice was never really in question during his time in Philly, it was obvious that he just didn’t ‘get it.’ Reportedly, players or management went to Holmgren and told him that changes were needed.

Whether that was true or not, the culture of the team instantly changed when Richards was shipped to the Kings, and before you could say ‘Avalon,’ Carter was sent to hockey purgatory in Columbus. All I have to say is this: Nobody can convince me that you have to trade your team captain and leading goal scorer on the same day just for salary reasons. Yes, I know the team had to clear cap room for Ilya Bryzgalov (that's another story altogether), but it just seems all too scripted. Furthermore, Richards failed to even acknowledge the fans upon his return to the Wells Fargo Center last Fall.

Tell me why I should root for him again?

Then, Carter sulked in Columbus and weaseled his way out of that city. Sensing the need for another scorer, or possibly fearing that Carter’s play would continue to deteriorate due to extended periods away from any beaches, Columbus reunited ‘Cartsie’ with ‘Richie’ in Los Angeles, where nobody gives a crap about hockey, people could care less about Richards in a BMW commercial, and most importantly, the shenanagins of the dynamic duo can fly under the radar while the paparazzi chases the Kardashians all over Sunset Strip.

Deep down, I think both players would agree they should have done things differently in Philadelphia. Although Carter and Richards both claim there’s no ill will towards the Flyers, maybe they’re both using their respective trades as motivation. If they are, it’s working. The Kings look absolutely scary, they’re flat out dominating the Coyotes, and are one win away from their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1993.  Carter had a hat trick in Game 3 for God’s sake!  It would have been nice if he saved one of those goals for Game 6 against Chicago, but I digress.

Simply put, it’s not going to just sting if those guys end up dragging Lord Stanley’s Cup down Santa Monica Boulevard, it’s going to flat out suck, and nobody can convince me otherwise.  The Avalanche won two Stanley Cups with the players from the Eric Lindros trade.

This can’t happen again.

Can it?

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: Andy Clark/Reuters