Jeff Carter and Mike Richards Reunited in LA

Jeff Carter and Mike Richards Reunited in LA

For several seasons, the Los Angeles Kings have been referred to as "Flyers West" due to a smattering of players, coaches, and front office members with ties to Philadelphia. Tonight's trade may have made it official. Just eight months after being traded out of Philadelphia and separated against their wishes, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are once again teammates. Carter's career as a Columbus Blue Jacket was mercifully short—on Thursday night, it was announced he'd been traded to the Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick.

Richie and Carter together again… More below on the crazy course of events that saw the faces of the Flyers franchise separated, then reunited, in less than a year.

When the rumors started rolling that Kings GM Dean Lombardi was interested in bringing Carter to Los Angeles, I admit I was at least a little happy to hear it. Despite the Richards and Carter trades proving to be advantageous for the Flyers (or perhaps because of it), I still like both players. I was a big Richie fan, loved his on-ice game, and I felt Carter was undervalued by some fans. It made sense to me to see the Flyers sign the duo to long-term deals, and it shocked me when they were both traded on the same day in June 2011.

But it didn't take long to understand the Flyers' thinking. It wasn't just a desire to make room for Ilya Bryzgalov's contract. They got great returns on each trade, with Wayne Simmonds playing the best hockey of his career, already scoring more goals than Richards, and Brayden Schenn now healthy and showing flashes of the player he'll grow to be. Jake Voracek has been solid if unspectacular, but Sean Couturier, who was selected with the 8th overall pick that came back in the Carter deal, was NHL-ready the day he put on the Flyers logo, and his future is clearly bright.

But I also felt terrible for Richards and Carter, who got the short end of the "hockey is a business" reality. Both signed their current contracts thinking they'd be Flyers for life. Carter's came less than a year before he was traded. Due to restrictions in the collective bargaining agreement, neither player was yet eligible for a no-movement clause; each would have seen theirs kick in after the current season.

Now, it appears their career trajectories are once again conjoined. Carter won't have to play out his career against his will in hockey hell, and in a way, the Flyers may be off the hook for any guilt they were feeling. Hell even Simon Gagne is out there, along with John Stevens, the Kings' assistant coach who was formerly a player-friendly coach of Richards and Carter with the Flyers and a Calder Cup-winning Phantoms team.

It may not be a popular opinion, but I wish both of them, and I guess by extension the Kings, well. They had their warts, but they were very good here, loved playing here, and wanted to retire Flyers. That being said, I don't want them anywhere near a Stanley Cup until the Flyers win one. That'd be painful... Truth be told though... If the Flyers get bounced and the Kings are still alive... It'd be hard to root against them.

Under what circumstances would you root for Flyers West? Certainly understandable if the answer is "Never," but I'd bet a fair amount of fans still like these guys, not to mention Ron Hextall (asst GM) and Justin Williams. Definitely a large group who have left them long behind though, too.

I'm not sure there could be a more interesting end to a Flyers season than to have them beat this Kings team in the Stanley Cup Finals...

Side discussion: Our sympathies have been transferred from Carter to Jack Johnson, a tough defenseman with some scoring touch who plenty of Flyers fans have wished might someday end up in Philly. With Columbus in fire sale mode and Carter clearly not a fit there, it's a bit surprising that they are the side getting the player plus the pick. While it's understandable they'd want the first rounder along with a quality NHLer, Carter was known to be wholly disgruntled, and also battled injuries this season.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks, 1-0, in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story).