A few years ago, I saw then-Phillies pitcher, Jamie Moyer, stumbling across a Philadelphia street on the outskirts of Old City at some point around 2:00 a.m. He looked a little disheveled — as anyone might at that hour of the morning — as he walked south across Walnut Street with a beautiful woman attached to his arm.
Here he was, the venerable, patronly mentor to ace-in-the-making, Cole Hamels, out in a questionable situation. The founder of the Moyer Foundation, a man whom we all respected, may have been out partying with a woman may not have been his wife with him.
Scandalous? No. It’s a baseless rumor with a disingenuous purpose that places an unfortunate seed of doubt in your mind as to what kind of person Moyer is. We don’t know what he was doing. Even if we could say definitively that this man who is pushing 50 and is nearly twice the age of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, was out partying, would it matter?
Babe Ruth might as well have stepped to the plate with a bottle of booze in one hand and a hot dog hanging from his mouth. It didn’t mean he was bad at his job, and neither are Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
Richards and Carter had their fair share of instances of being seen out in public — just like most people in their 20s — during their time in Philly. That doesn’t mean they acted alone or excessively. They were just the most visibly.
The mere suggestion that the Dry Island existed would imply that enough people on the team were partying that it had to be addressed by coach Peter Laviolette.
As a writer said to me recently, “These players are the guys we hated in high school, the ones who went to all the cool parties and got all the girls.”
People drink. Athletes party. That’s life. That’s what happens. It doesn’t necessarily change just because someone turns pro.
The night Pelle Lindbergh died, he was not out drinking by himself. He was with his teammates in what was most likely not an uncommon occurrence. In those days, though, the players were wise enough to stay away from the public eye by living and socializing in smaller neighborhoods in New Jersey. Towns like Voorhees are far away enough from Philadelphia to provide some privacy from the media.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are no different than the Flyers of any generation, except for the fact that they made the shortsighted decision to live in the city, where they were constantly under critical public scrutiny in a day and age where cellphone cameras and social media combine to magnify stories to the point where the truth is no longer discernable.
In a sense, they created their own drama by putting themselves, well, right in the center of it all.
But that is only part of the issue. The other part of this story is that someone let out some very confidential information to, of all people, a gossip writer. How is it that two unnamed players felt that they could speak to Dan Gross about this highly private issue?
I can’t be the only person who thinks this is suspicious and has a lot of questions.
Why come out and drag Richards and Carter in the mud now? Which two players would do this? If they partied so hard that it became an issue, why would the Los Angeles Kings, an organization packed with players and coaches who played and worked with Mike Richards, even want him? Finally, how would a player even know why Richards and Carter were traded?
To answer the first two questions, it’s worth looking at the biggest piece of shrapnel hurdling through the air after Paul Holmgren set off a bomb at the beginning of the offseason:
Since the lockout, Richards and Carter were the future of the organization as part of a youth movement that included naming Richards captain and proclaiming him to be the next Bobby Clarke, an honor that was later given to Claude Giroux as well.
Now, they are the enemies and we will likely see the organization move back veteran leadership, pinning the “C” on either Chris Pronger or Kimmo Timonen. Pointing out the typical follies of youth gives us more reason to throw our trust behind one of these veteran defenders who were rumored to have their own issues with Carter and Richards.
In some ways, assassinating the characters of these two players has the added side effect of changing the perception of these trades. Many fans were unhappy with the returns received for these two franchise players. Suddenly, it may seem to some like a big relief that the Flyers got as much as we did for those good-for-nothing bums.
The Kings have a bright future ahead of them and their players are beginning to hit their prime. They want to win now before they can no longer fit all their players under the cap. After taking years to painstakingly build a winning team, Dean Lombardi would not carelessly risk throwing it all away by trading away such valuable pieces for Richards, if his partying was that big of an issue. Los Angeles is probably the last place you would want to have such a player.
The fact is that Dan Gross is not a news reporter. He writes a gossip column and the info that he got from two players who wished to remain anonymous is exactly that: gossip. No matter how these two players are allegedly perceived, I highly doubt it’s any kind of confirmation of the exact reason why these players were traded.
After all, Paul Holmgren isn’t exactly in the business of sharing such information with his players — or anyone outside his “inner sanctum” for that matter.