Not surprisingly, after a player on a long term deal is traded, people want to know why.
Sometimes there are clear reasons - problems in the team's makeup, a lack of success, underperformance, salary cap issues, etx.
In the case of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, there were fairly obvious reasons - the Flyers had put themselves in serious cap trouble, especially with the Bryzgalov deal, and perhaps, for those interested in the frisson of controversy, the fact that Richards had a notably poor relationship with some of the media covering the Philadelphia locker room.
Sometimes, though, the obvious answers aren't obvious enough, and people will still want to know if there are "other" reasons, lurking mysteriously beneath the surface.
Today, a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News reported that a "party lifestyle" was the reason both were traded. Puck Daddy grabbed the piece and ran it basically as gospel, but perhaps we need to back off for a minute and take another look.
Let's start with the background of the columnist, Dan Gross, who produced this piece for the Daily News. You may have noticed that the column appeared not in the Sports section, but the Arts & Entertainment....because Mr. Gross is the Daily News' gossip columnist. Since I'm not really familiar with the Philly scene, I decided to reach out to Travis Hughes, head of Broad Street Hockey, to ask about his credentials.
Maybe there are benefits to living in the fifth largest city in America, but the news media generally isn't one of those benefits. Big cities mean lots of famous people, and lots of famous people mean assholes who get paid to dig up dirt on those people. In Philadelphia, our friendly neighborhood jerk is Dan Gross of the Philadelphia Daily News, who somehow finds enough celebrity gossip to fill a blog on a Philly.com and a column four days a week in the paper.If you're thinking that's an impossible feat and that he might have to stretch the truth or make stuff up or print nasty, potentially libelous things from time to time, you are likely correct.
For that matter, let's look at when this supposedly happened: Laviolette put up the "Dry Island" board in the first five months of his tenure as head coach in Philadelphia. That'd be December, 2009, and means the Dry Island saga lasted until....May, 2010? Carter wasn't even in the room for much of that period, as he was out for much of the late season and first round of the playoffs rehabbing from surgery after breaking his foot blocking a shot. When he returned, he came back and delivered 5 goals in 12 games as part of the effort, and for that matter, started the process of sitting down with the Flyers on a new contract.
If, and this is a BIG if, Carter and Richards' behavior was a problem, why was Carter offered a long term deal at that point? If Peter Laviolette was so concerned about the behavior, why was Richards left with the C on his chest? Why was Carter allowed to keep an assistant captaincy when he returned and into the following season? For that matter, why was he offered a deal that would include a no trade / no movement clause?