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.

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, both struggling mightily through the first month of the season, will get Saturday night off when the Phillies take on the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Joseph is hitting .190 with one homer and 18 strikeouts in 18 games, while Rupp is batting .180 with one homer and 20 strikeouts through 15 games. Last season, Joseph had 21 home runs and Rupp 16.

Brock Stassi will spell Joseph at first base and bat seventh. Andrew Knapp takes over for Rupp behind the plate and will bat eighth.

Daniel Nava also receives a start, playing left field. The first-year Phillie is hitting .346 with a pair of homers and as many walks as strikeouts (seven).

Zach Eflin takes the mound in a meaningful start for the right-hander (see story). He opposes resurgent Dodgers righty Brandon McCarthy (see game notes).

Here are tonight's lineups:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Brock Stassi, 1B
8. Andrew Knapp, C
9. Zach Eflin, P

Dodgers
1. Andrew Toles, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Yasmani Grandal, C
5. Yasiel Puig, RF
6. Cody Bellinger, LF
7. Chase Utley, 2B
8. Chris Taylor, 3B
9. Brandon McCarthy, P

Eagles draft Washington DT Elijah Qualls with final pick

Eagles draft Washington DT Elijah Qualls with final pick

With their final pick of the 2017 draft, the Eagles selected 6-foot-1, 313-pound Washington defensive tackle Elijah Qualls in the sixth round on Saturday.

He's the second Washington player the Eagles took in this year's draft. They selected injured cornerback Sidney Jones in the second round (see story).

Qualls had 77 tackles, 11½ tackles for loss and 7½ sacks in 30 career games (see bio).

"I for sure stop the run well," Qualls said at the NFL Draft Scouting Combine. "And I'm actually a lot better pass rusher than a lot of people think. Typically a lot of our game plan as far as pass rushing was to keep the quarterback contained, so I really couldn't get after him like I'm capable of.

"I'm not going to say I'm one of the best pass rushers ever or anything like that — I've only been playing defensive line since I got to college. I'm still learning, but I'm a lot better than people do think."

Qualls was actually a running back in high school, but he said he got bored scoring touchdowns.

"I was 260 playing running back in high school," he said. "I had 1,300 rushing yards, though. It honestly became too easy, that's why I switched to defensive line. Scoring touchdowns wasn't exciting to me anymore, it was just something I expected.

"Then my last year, my coach came to me and said, 'Hey, would you be willing to play some defense?' My mindset was that if I played defense, I could get the ball back. So I played some defensive line, middle linebacker. I was recruited at both of those positions.

"I kind of just did a little research project trying to see what the long term was like for both running backs and defensive linemen, and defensive linemen tend to last longer, have less severe injuries, and honestly on average probably make more money, so I decided to be a defensive lineman. Plus I like the challenge."

With Bennie Logan leaving as a free agent, the Eagles have Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Beau Allen and now Qualls in the mix on the interior of the defensive line.

"I feel like I can fit into any scheme," Qualls said. "I can do anything you ask me to, I played everything from zero to outside linebacker, so there's not much I can't do. It's just whether or not someone can accept me being a couple inches shorter than the person they prefer playing there.

"But I'm stronger than a lot of people, and my football intelligence is top notch."