That game was in one of the final games during the worst season in franchise history. It also came in the last minute or two, when we were down 3-1, and shorthanded. I remember the play vividly because I was at that game. Richards carried the puck up the ice and went through a pair of players to score. He showed incredible effort in a completely meaningless situation. It’s that sort of attitude that earned him the C on his chest.
I understand that I’m a bit bias towards Richards because I love the player that he was. He had so many awesome moments that made him stand out. He hustled, he scored pretty goals, he scored timely goals, he fought, he played defense. He didn’t score enough to be an elite player. But he did enough to be a tier below the best of the best. He was reliable in every situation. I don’t care one bit about anything he did outside of hockey. I wouldn’t care if he got into bar fights, had orgies with porn stars, or ran over reporters with his car on a daily basis. That’s not why I watch hockey. I watch for what he does on the ice, and what he did, I loved.
Now, if there are other issues that we don’t really know about, that’s a different story. If everyone in the locker room hated him, that’s a real issue. Because I don’t look at this purely as a hockey trade. Until more roster moves are made, I’m not supporting this trade one bit. For this upcoming season, we didn’t really get much back at all, aside from a bit of cap space. And even that’s not guaranteed.
Richards cap hit was about $5.7M. Simmonds is unrestricted, and he was making about $800K. Maybe he gets a bit of a raise if we choose to resign him. Let’s even if it’s something modest, that’s a $1M gone. And if Brayden Schenn makes the team, he’s worth $3.1M. So if those two moves are made, then that free’s up $1.6M in cap space. The draft pick we got in the deal is for 2012, so that has zero impact on this season, unless we use it to trade for another player.
Thus, we sent away our captain and most important player for a 3rd line tough guy, and highly valued prospect. Prospect means he should be good, but nothing is guaranteed. Maybe he turns into an amazing player, or maybe he’s a bust. But we don’t know anything. So this move was clearly made with an eye towards the future. In my eyes, it represents a change in philosophy by the Flyers. We’ve gone from trying to win right now, to planning more for the future. And given how close I think this team is, I don’t like it.
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