Here they are. Your Western Conference Champs, the Los Angeles Kings.
To many Flyers fans, this stings. Hey, that's understandable. After the off-season we underwent just over a year ago, and after the exciting 2011-12 season we experienced falling short of what we hoped, we're left here to watch a handful of players we traded away 12-months ago....advance to the Stanley Cup Final the very league-year after their departure from Philadelphia.
All the while we're -- once again -- on the sidelines, spectating.
This has given a very large majority of Flyers followers (and even the haters) an opportunity to tackle hindsight-argument with less than perfect 20/20 vision. In fact, I'd call it blindness.
To these individuals, they see the sequence of events happening like this --
- Mike Richards was traded to LA.
- Jeff Carter was traded to Columbus.
- Jeff Carter gets traded to the Kings, mid-season, and joins Mike Richards once again.
- The Flyers struggle and fall in the SemiFinals.
- The Los Angeles Kings defeat the #1, 2 and 3 Seeded Western Conference powerhouses, and go on to the Stanley Cup Final.
- Obviously the Flyers made a mistake trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.
- Blame Flyers GM, Paul Holmgren.
Before the 2011-12 season began, Holmgren was under enough heat for dealing away these two very high caliber players.
Where's the scoring going to come from?
Who's going to lead us on the ice?
How are we going to handle the special teams situations with our best two-way forward gone?
These are just a few questions that had come up once the off-season splashes happened. To our surprise, the Flyers held on to the highest goals-scored by any team in the League for the majority of the season. Free Agency pick up, Max Talbot, delivered outstanding PK performances and exceeded everyone's expectations in the offensive end. And when Captain Chris Pronger fell to permanent injury, we had a core of extremely talented leaders share the alternate A's on their sweaters.
In all, after the facelift this roster got buckled with a year ago, we're staring down the barrel of a brilliantly positive future for this team and their young up-and-coming stars.
Even with all that I just mentioned, there's still many out there who only see it one way; "Carter and Richards are in the Cup Final. We should have never traded them."
It's disappointing to hear that from fellow Orange & Black brethren. Especially since that argument cannot be made so simply. They're not reading between the lines, or considering the circumstances that developed after the trades had been made.
Instead of recognizing how Mike Richards and Jeff Carter filled-in key roles on the Kings' roster, people are certain that had Holmgren held on to them.....it'd somehow be the Philadelphia Flyers in the Big Dance, not the New York Rangers or New Jersey Devils (who are currently battling in the tail-end of their Conference Finals series).
There's simply no way to know that at all. Yet there are people who are certain of it. They're incapable of computing, formulating, and sharing an opinion based on details deeper than a rain puddle. Instead, they choose to recycle and regurgitate the same argument which is nothing more than a product of fear and frustration fornicating with eachother.
I've thrown a lot of negative criticism towards the Flyers fans who never got over Richards, Carter and/or Gagne leaving town. I call them "obsessive." I tell them to get over it. Move on. Focus on the crest we worship, not the nameplates who once represented it.
And believe me, I realize how hypocritical I sound right now considering I'm here, dedicating an entire article to the very players I've begged others to shut the hell up about.
But I feel this is an argument that absolutely must be made.
For example; Take this article written by Josh Folck of The Express-Times. Josh titles it, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter keep making Philadelphia Flyers' decision to trade them look worse and worse.
To the particular fans in question, this title says everything it needs to in order to prove their theory correct. Nevermind Kings goaltender, Jonathan Quick, who is a Vezina Trophy finalist. Nevermind the outstanding and dominating play by Captain Dustin Brown, or Anze Kopitar. Nevermind the defensive contributions from Drew Doughty or Willie Mitchell.
Apparently, the Kings' Cup berth might as well be called The Offspring of Richie & Carter.
Josh finishes his article with --
If in June, Richards and Carter are carrying around the Cup in celebration after the Kings are crowned champions, all the Flyers organization and its fans can do is ask, "What if we didn't trade those guys?"
Firstly, that's not all we can do. That's a complete assumption, and subjective at best.
Secondly, "What if we didn't trade those guys?" Well, to answer your question, Josh, we'd probably be coming off another season that consisted of a goalie carousel, and another question-mark between the pipes.
We'd end a season without the likes of Jakub Voracek, Jaromir Jagr, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, and the NHL's former #1 prospect Brayden Schenn.
We may have never gotten the chance to see Matt Read lead all NHL rookies in goals, or Eric Wellwood stun us with his speed and penalty-killing ability.
Because of their cap hits, Richards and Carter's salaries may have limited Holmgren's options defensively when he traded for Niklas Grossmann midway through the season. We may not have had the room to trade for such a puck-blocking monster.
And most importantly, the spotlight would not have soaked Claude Giroux as much as it did this passing season. Because of those two traded away, Giroux had been given his chance to become this team's future. And he answered with flying colors (pardon the pun).
If you want to sit there and rack your mind with the possibilities we missed out on not having Mike Richards and Jeff Carter on the roster......fine. Go ahead. Enjoy your miserable insanity. Because that's all that's waiting for you on the end of that trail.
Instead, I'll look back on the 2011-12 Flyers season and smile, knowing full well that the potential and leadership that is entrenched in this Club has all the makings of a Cup parade down Broad Street in the very near future.
Make no mistake -- I am not trying to take anything away from what Richie and Carts added to the Kings' success. I would never claim they had nothing to do with it.
Because that's JUST as false as saying they had EVERYTHING to do with it.
Good luck to them. Congrats to them.
You CANNOT cast final judgement on Holmgren's decisions only one season after they were made.
"You're still wrong, Mike."
Bite my ass, hater.
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