Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that the Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup Champions. And unless you’ve been living under two rocks, you know that two of the guys who got to hoist the Cup on Monday night were Mike Richards and Jeff Carter — former Philadelphia Flyers who were traded away a little under a year ago.
A lot has been said about what their Stanley Cup victory means to the Flyers. It’s left a bitter taste in some mouths, while others still believe that the trades were for the best and the Flyers are better off.
The thing is, there’s no sense in wondering if the Flyers could have eventually won a Cup with Richards and Carter or not. It doesn’t matter, because the trades are long since done and the two are Kings now. So instead of questioning whether or not the Flyers made the right move by trading the pair, it’s time for Flyers fans to focus on the good: the future of the team.
When the Flyers completely overhauled their roster during the summer of 2011, no one knew what to expect of the newly-assembled squad. Would they click, or would they have trouble building chemistry? Few thought they’d have a strong first season together.
But to everyone’s surprise, the team found its chemistry early on, and it helped carry them to another postseason. Unfortunately, their Cup run ended much earlier than their fans had hoped, but the fact that they even made it to the playoffs was a testament to the talent and skill the ‘new’ Flyers had.
Claude Giroux had a phenomenal season, scoring 93 points in 77 games (and 17 points in the playoffs). It wasn’t the first great season he’s had, but it was the best of his career to date. Scott Hartnell had a breakout year, proving his doubters wrong by posting 67 points in 82 games. There were contributions from the new guys, as well — guys like Jaromir Jagr, Wayne Simmonds, and Max Talbot. And the performance of certain rookies cannot be overlooked.
Matt Read scored 47 points in his first season in the NHL, and ended up as the leading rookie goal-scorer for the season. Sean Couturier was a great two-way center that the Flyers needed after Richards’ departure, and surprised everyone by his performance. He impressed the team so much that they put him on the ice to defend against NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the first round of the playoffs, and he dominated. Even Brayden Schenn, who missed a large chunk of time with the team, was a large contributor once he returned from injury.
Those performances are just from the rookie seasons of those players. Imagine how much better they’ll be as they continue to develop and acclimate to the NHL.
Despite some truly poor performances throughout the season, Ilya Bryzgalov demonstrated flashes of greatness during his first year with the Flyers, including a record-setting shutout streak of 249:43 in early March. Sure, there were struggles, but there were also times when Bryzgalov showed why the Flyers took such a big chance on him.
The team has faith in him. Both Ed Snider and Claude Giroux have defended Bryzgalov and stated that they believe in his abilities. There were a lot of things that factored into Bryzgalov’s performances during the season — both the good ones and the bad ones — and now that he’s had a season to adjust to playing in Philadelphia, he just might become the goaltender the Flyers’ brass hoped he would be for the team.
This is a team that is determined to win. Last summer’s trades are proof that the organization is not afraid to make big changes if they believe it will make them more successful in the long run.
While watching former Flyers win the Stanley Cup this season may be a tough pill to swallow, Flyers fans shouldn’t feel slighted. The future is bright for this Flyers team, and with the squad they have, it can only get better from here.