Like many of you, I was left shaking my head around 4 o'clock Thursday afternoon. Not only was our leading scorer shipped out of town, but the next Bobby Clarke, or the one they call "Richie," was sent packing for LA.
Are the Gods of Hockey attempting to send a message to this team? Man, I wish I were a fly on the wall when the Flyers were swept by the Boston Bruins, who later went on to win the Stanley Cup. What was it that Mr. Snider said to GM Paul Holmgren? I can only assume Ed Snider didn't have to say all that much. It was quite clear after this years early exit, that something had to be done. To this length, however? I truly envisioned the Flyers Faithful rioting around the intersection of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue. How dare Vancouver try to upstage us! We are the villains of the sports world. Remember? We pegged Santa with snowballs for absolutely no reason, correct? What a bunch of malarkey, but I digress.
What is that old saying? Don't bite the hand that feeds you. This was a direct message to the entire team that the behavior of both Richards and Carter off the ice, and in the locker room, will not be tolerated. Sure Richards laid it out there on the ice, but the more I stood up for Richards, the more I realized that he was becoming a distraction to some of the younger guys on the team. Hint, hint, Giroux and JVR. As far as Jeff Carter, he has enough pundits, one more would be like beating a dead horse.
Do not get me wrong, Richards was my favorite player, right behind Rod Brind'Amour, but once I pondered the trade and came to the realization that this team is better off without these two, at least in the long term, the more excited I became. Not only for this upcoming season, but how it seems as though Mr. Holmgren has something else up his sleeve.
The two names that keep reappearing are Steven Stamkos and Brad Richards, a RFA and UFA, respectively. With the trade of Powe today, and Leino's contract negotiations stalled, it appears the Flyers may make another push for a big name player. It is no secret that Stamkos and the ongoing negotiations between him and the Tampa Bay Lightning are in a rut. Many are left to speculate that he wants out of Tampa, either because its a small market, or because Steve Yzerman can't give him the figure that he is looking for. While I find it unlikely that he will be moved, multiple teams including the Flyers, would be crazy not to throw together an offer by July 1. They have around $7-$10 million available to play with, if they choose not to resign Leino, or Dan Carcillo to new contracts.
The other name involved, is former Dallas Stars center, Brad Richards. He will test the free agent market this Summer and will most likely find a nice spot, for the right price. While the Flyers could also throw their hat into the ring, many such as Larry Brooks of the New York Post, reports that New York Rangers GM, Glen Sather, will make a big push for the impending unrestricted free agent. It is rumored that he would like to be reunited with old coach John Tortorella, whom he won a Stanley Cup with in Tampa Bay. Some also are saying the Leafs would like to get involved, but it wouldn't be farfetched of Mr. Holmgren to at least check out what Richards wants in terms of cap dollars and years.
Even though Mr. Snider vehemently denies any big signings coming in the near future, the cap space the Flyers have available to play with would suggest otherwise. Even if they decide against making a pitch to either of these players, names such as Carolina Hurricanes winger Erik Cole and Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich keep popping up. With all the bold moves Homer has made over the years, I highly doubt he will sit back on July 1st with this much money sitting around. That is not how the Flyers do business, as they are always competitive this time of year.
Unlike many of our local politicians, Homer has one thing that many GM's lack,cajones! Not only do I see Homer making a pitch at one of the big names available, but if I were a betting man, I wouldn't put it past him that he makes a major offer to either Stamkos or Richards.
It is not in our black n' orange encrusted DNA to sit back at this time of year. As I stated before, if I were a betting man, I'd throw all my chips in when it comes to Holmgren bringing in a top-notch player of this caliber. It would be crazy not to. We have too much money available and too much stock put into next season not to.
Do you see Homer cashing out early or putting all his chips down on this huge hand? I say the latter.