Flyers’ fans: What if you were told at the end of Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final that in two years’ time, your captain, your 40 goal scorer, and a modern-day Flyer legend would all be Stanley Cup champions?
Like me, you would have lost your mind because surely it would have meant one thing and one thing only, right? Philadelphia Flyers: 2012 Stanley Cup champions! After 35+ years, the cup is coming back to Broad Stre… wait, what? What the hell do you mean 2012 Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings?! This is a twist only the likes of M. Night Shyamalan could have imagined.
So, just how did a team win the Stanley Cup with players who should have easily been lifetime Flyers littered throughout its roster? The simple answer is Kings’ netminder and Conn Smyth trophy winner Jonathan Quick… but in reality a handful of ex-Flyers played key roles in the Kings’ first championship in franchise history. To think of it another way, the Los Angeles Kings had half of Philadelphia’s top six that led them to within one win of the Cup just two years ago.
Let me guess what you’re thinking: It has been six months, a new season is on the horizon, and the young stallions (and Matt Walker) they received in exchange for these aforementioned players soften the blow. Those statements are all true, but the past is never far behind and this trend isn’t just exclusive to "Flyers West" who, according to my abacus, had a grand total of 6 former Flyers’ personnel who skated with the Cup that steamy night in Los Angeles.
- 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning: Ruslan Fedonteko
Wrap your head around this: six members of the 2005 Philadelphia Phantoms who won the Calder Cup have gone on to win a Stanley Cup for another team since leaving the Flyers’ organization.
Now, I do understand that some of these players were not directly traded from Philadelphia to an eventual Cup winner and it is also understood that, in some instances, players had multiple stops in other cities before they found their way to Lord Stanley. However, the point remains: Why must we repeatedly watch players we cheered not so long ago while wearing the orange and black win hockey’s Holy Grail in a different sweater?
Of course, you can’t keep everybody in a world with salary caps, personality clashes, unrestricted free agency and limited roster spots. With that being said, I can’t be the only one who continues to feel torn and disillusioned when players who once donned the Flyers’ crest and never wanted to leave Philly in the first place go on to win in another city.
Could it be that Philadelphia is a glorified feeder team to other contenders? Is Flyers’ management perhaps far too reactionary and trigger-happy? Could I just be out of my element and unjustified with my assertions? All I know is this: If Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk win the Stanley Cup in Toronto before the Flyers do, I know I will not be the only one thrown into a deep psychosis.
At the end of the day, what’s done is done and in some of these deals Philadelphia acquired key players who became Flyers heroes, like Keith Primeau and Matt Ellison. However, one can’t help but wonder…. what if?