June 23, 2011—the day that changed the course of history for the Philadelphia Flyers, and for the entire NHL really. Little more than a year after coming within two wins of hoisting the Stanley Cup, general manager Paul Holgrem blew up the team’s core, trading Jeff Carter to Columbus and captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles.
You know the rest of the story. Carter found his way to LA not long after, where he and Richards were able to get their names engraved on the Cup as members of the Kings franchise.
June 23, 2011 could’ve turned out very different however. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch recalls a story where Holmgren actually offered up both Carter and Richards to the Blue Jackets as a package.
Holmgren called Howson the day before the draft in the morning to tell him he was ready to make the move, but not before he dropped a bombshell on Howson’s lap, one that staggered him and forced him to sit down:
“You want ‘em both?” Holmgren asked Howson, meaning Carter and Richards.
The Flyers would likely have demanded center Ryan Johnansen – drafted one year earlier – as part of the package, along with the No. 1 pick in the following year’s draft. That means defenseman Ryan Murray would not be a Blue Jacket. He could be wearing orange.
Portzline wonders whether Richards coming along would’ve assuaged Carter, who never showed any interest in playing in Columbus, Ohio (and who could blame him?). The writer also questions whether or not the uber-talented Rick Nash would’ve later been dealt to the New York Rangers.
And naturally, it’s debatable whether the Kings would’ve claimed the Cup without Richards and/or Carter in the first place. We’re still not quite sure how those deals will pan out for the Flyers over the long haul, but it was rather irksome watching the orange-and-black’s once-bright stars finish the job they started in Philadelphia with another franchise.
Who’s to say if the revised package from Columbus for both of them would’ve been a better deal or not, and it’s moot anyway because that’s not the deal that was struck. However, trading Richards and Carter might not be viewed quite as unfavorably today by a segment of fans and analysts had the pair just meandered through the past couple seasons on a mid-tier Blue Jackets club.
>> “You want ‘em both?” [Columbus Dispatch]