I guess it was only a matter of time before this story was written, right?
From Daily News gossip columnist (in other words, the part of the paper you line your bird cage with) Dan Gross, there's a story today about this Flyers team ritual called the "Dry Island," where every player on the team has to pledge to go a month without drinking during the season by putting their numbers on a board in the locker room.
The report says that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter failed to make that pledge the first five or so months of the Peter Laviolette era (according to two players who aren't named), which was essentially backed up by Paul Holmgren on the record. The story also says, in both the lede paragraph and the headline, that the players were traded because they drank too much.
Here's some of the DN "story", with a quote from Homer:
No. 17 (Carter) and No. 18 (Richards) were absent from the board on the first Dry Island, as well as the estimated five more times the policy was instituted.
In a phone interview Thursday, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren confirmed that Richards and Carter hadn't put their numbers on the board, but said there had been others who declined. "We carry 23 players and there wasn't 23 numbers up there."
Holmgren was "really upset that this is out there. That's our locker room. Our inner sanctum. Our board. Someone's crossing a line here," in discussing the Dry Island.
So what do we know, exactly, from this story so far?
- The coach makes the players take a month-long pledge to not drink.
- In the first five installments of that pledge, Richards and Carter failed to opt in on the pledge, as did other players.
- Holmgren is upset that somebody spilled the beans about their For British Eyes Only team ritual.
Does that mean the Flyers traded away two elite, franchise-defining hockey players because they're in their 20s and like to party? Of course it doesn't. BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE CRAZY.
Let's look at the rest of the story. Those two unnamed players never actually say in the story that the players were traded because of their drinking, yet that assumption is made by Gross twice. He cites those two players as saying that the organization was "disappointed" in their drinking, but not that they were traded because of it.
Perhaps more importantly, Paul Holmgren said this:
Holmgren also said it was "preposterous" that partying was factored into the decision to trade Richards and Carter. "As far as Mike and Jeff are concerned, we made two good hockey trades that will better suit us now and for the future. Columbus is happy, L.A. is happy and the Flyers are happy with the deal."
Carter's agent Rick Curran had an even better response, saying that it was "bullshit" and that if somebody on the team says this stuff off the record "without having the balls to come out publicly, consider it for what it is."
When all is said and done, it's a question of who you believe. Is the guy you believe the same guy that routinely writes shit like this sentence, which appeared at the bottom of the Carter/Richards story?
John Bolaris is usually chasing Playboy material...
And that's not even the worst of what's been printed under his byline. I mean, shit: This guy makes a living digging up dirt on people, and if there's no dirt to dig, he's out of a job. Why should we trust any of it? Again, it's a fucking gossip column. Have you ever read Dan Gross?
The local media could never stand the Flyers captain, and many of them were unable to look past his abrasive personality. This is fact and we all know it. They're in their 20s and they're millionaires that like to party, but there's not a single indication that they ever did anything wrong besides having a little (or even a lot) of fun. I'm in my 20s and I like to go out and inebriate myself too. Guess what? I still get my damned job done.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were simply easy targets. They aren't charismatic personalities, they care more about playing hockey than talking about it and they're young millionaires that were living in a city with a ton of nightlife (and women).
They could have been in Old City every single night for all I care, as long as they were still phenomenal hockey players on the ice, which they most definitely were throughout their Flyers careers. (As FGSB pointed out, aren;t this guy and his entire alcoholic team still loved in this town?)
Even if the organization would have preferred they party a little less and rest a little more, don't you think they'd have the same basic attitude? We're talking about hockey guys here. Paul Holmgren is aware that hockey players drink and party and do whatever the hell else -- shit, he played in the God damned 1970s, when players weren't exactly saints.
At the end of the day, the notion that the Flyers traded away two elite young hockey players away because they like to party just doesn't hold up to the smell test. It doesn't matter how many bullshit gossip columns are written about it.