The finger-pointing was under way well before the Flyers' season actually ended on Friday night, and naturally the captain has received his share of the criticism. Mike Richards managed just seven points and only one goal in 11 playoff games this year, and he was a -6 in the Bruins series, prompting some fans to call for the C off his sweater.
Not surprisingly, there may have been more to the story. The Inquirer's Sam Carchidi reports the club is awaiting the diagnosis on a wrist injury, one that's severe enough it may require surgery. GM Paul Holmgren confirmed the news, and elaborated it was something the Flyers center played with over the "latter part of the season."
Holmgren added the team should know more about Richards' injury some time on Monday, as well as whether or not Chris Pronger will need more surgery.
Obviously, the news garners some mixed feelings. It is sort of a relief knowing something was wrong, likely the cause behind Richards' diminished offense. He finished the season with 23 goals, his lowest total since 06-07. Of course, the NHL isn't going to say, "Oh, Richards was hurt," and put the Flyers back in the playoffs. Also, we have no idea on the severity.
The question Flyers fans will probably ask next is whether Richards should have been playing at all if the injury was that bad. Did he hurt the team more than he made a positive contribution?
When it comes down to it, you want to see the captain on the ice. He would have taken as much grief or more sitting out. Everybody hear the whispers about Pronger? Plus, Richards is still a great two-way player, even if he wasn't exactly getting it done at the offensive end.
In the end, this does little to change how disappointing the Flyers' finish is. It's merely one piece of a much larger puzzle the front office will have to figure out to get this team back on track.