Flyer Shocker Reeks of “Same Old, Same Old”

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter

And just when it seemed like someone was finally getting it.

Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren looked as though he was going to be a pioneer. The GM who decided enough is enough and it’s time to end these ridiculously lengthy contracts.

I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

After trading the two cornerstone players of the Flyers franchise in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter for young prospects and draft picks, Holmgren went out and messed it all up. He signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9 year, $51 million contract. He got rid of two bad contracts in order to make room for one really bad contract.

Richards who had 9 years left on a 12 year contract and Carter who has his new 11 year contract extension kick in next season both were shocked by a deal that came completely out of left field.

Apparently NHL GM’s enjoy torturing themselves. These contracts are like a bad marriage. The one’s that last only because there’s a kid involve. It’s great until you realize the person that you married isn’t the same person anymore. However, by the time you realize it you’re tied down.

Signing long contracts to avoid a cap hit is no different.

According to sources, the Flyers weren’t happy with their franchise cornerstones. The work ethic that garnered them their lengthy extensions was falling. They were partying too hard. Rumours have been floating around for a while. Richards and Carter had changed. The marriage was failing.

It was amazing that Holmgren found a way to get out. He got a good return on his unwanted investment while the value was still high. Holmgren received ultra-prospect Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek, the 8th overall pick, Wayne Simmonds and a 3rd rounder. Brilliant.

For some reason Holmgren reeled himself back in.

The Flyers have desperately needed goaltending though. Of course that’s what Holmgren is thinking. But the amount of foolishness involved in committing 9 years to a 31-year-old goalie is almost unimaginable. History is repeating itself again in the National Hockey League.

Did he not witness the Vancouver Canucks suffer at the hands of their $64 million man? Does Holmgren not even comprehend the lost motivation and deteriorating play of his former stars upon receiving their long contracts?

Obviously this old dog doesn’t get it.

Neither does anyone else in the NHL.

Related: Note to NHL GM’s – This is Getting Out of Hand

In an attempt to set his team up well for the future, Holmgren unknowingly has devastated it. The cap space opened up by the departure of Carter and Richards was necessary to free up room for Bryzgalov. Consequently, the signing of Bryzgalov will hurt their chances of locking up their future stars like Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk.

Good thing the Flyers don’t have to worry about that right at this moment. Phew.

These GM’s keep going back to the same bad girlfriend. The guys that will always find a way to get with the same type of girl no matter how bad it has been. The guys just never seem to recognize it.

Is Columbus GM Scott Howson brain-dead for not noticing that Jeff Carter’s scoring totals have dropped significantly in the last two years? Is he brain-dead for not noticing that the Blue Jackets don’t have the team to contend despite now having a first-line center to play with star winger Rick Nash?

You would have thought that the disastrous contracts of past years would make these GM’s a little more shy.

For all we know, maybe the names Wade Redden, Scott Gomez, Brian Campbell, Vincent Lecavalier and Rick DiPietro don’t ring a bell to them.

Clearly, a disaster of Vesuvius proportions will have to occur to make NHL GM’s realize the error of their ways.

The Tim Thomas fountain of youth isn’t experienced by many. I wonder if Bryzgalov has access to it.

A large part of a players motivation stems from the fact that he has a contract looming in the future. The Flyers put the trust in Carter and Richards that they had enough character not to lose that motivation. It didn’t work out.

Why should we believe it will work in a different city?

The Flyers themselves are once again trying to build from within but this go around they are stuck with an aging goaltender. It won’t be an overnight maturation for their young guns to get the Flyers to the point where they are true contenders. By that time, they’ll see that Ilya is not the same goalie. He won’t be the man they thought they had.

He’ll be older and not nearly as sexy. It is what is to become of all these nonsensical contracts.

They should think like Hugh Heffner instead. Trade ’em in when they’re older and breaking down. Well, at least don’t pay them as much.

Someone will eventually come in and change the landscape of the NHL. A new dog will show everybody new tricks. All the old dogs will wonder why they never bothered to learn.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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24 Responses to Flyer Shocker Reeks of “Same Old, Same Old”

  1. Dominick says:

    One good thing about the Richards contract, is that he won’t ever just be resting on his laurels knowing that he has a fat contract and isn’t going anywhere for a long, long time. He believed he wasn’t, right up until about 1:30 pm pacific standard time today. LOL

    Nice work.

  2. jboehmer says:

    Dominick may be on to something. Holmgren has obviously let the league know, quite loudly in fact, that these long-term deals don’t mean a thing to him, and no one is untouchable. So if Bryzgalov really likes the East, Philadelphia, and the idea of staying settled with his wife until his retirement, he’s going to have to maintain the high level of play that brought him here.

  3. Adam Holman says:

    Hey Chris,
    I like what you are trying to say about long term contracts, but Paul Holmgren had absolutely nothing to do with the signing of Bryzgalov other than to give him a tour of the city. Ed Snider, the flyers chairman, demanded that Holmgren sign Ilya by any means necessary. After watching the Stanley Cup finals, the play of Tim Thomas to be specific, Snider believed that a goalie was the biggest thing holding back this Flyers team.
    While I understand that the Flyers’ moves were big enough to spark heated debates across hockey fandom, it is truly hard to understand the moves if you haven’t been entrenched in the massive disappointments that are Mike Richards and Jeff Carter over the last six years. These are two players that were supposed to lead the Flyers franchise to a Stanley Cup victory. They got close, eventually losing to the Blackhawks, however that team was not led by either player. It was thanks to Pronger’s physical nature on the back line and Briere’s ability to be a big-time playoff performer that propelled them to such heights.
    For the record, Carter had more goals and assists this year than last, and even though his trade value was not as high as the summer of 2009, most fans are rejoicing about his departure. He is notorious for coming up small when it matters most. I implore you to try and locate Carter during the playoffs, it is almost impossible. He misses wide open nets, he shoots wrist shots from the blue line, and he is about as physically looming as a 3 day old puppy. Richards was a bigger surprise, but with multiple off-ice problems surrounding him it kind of makes sense.
    The most important thing to realize when talking about these moves is that it doesn’t leave the Flyers in rebuilding mode. They were widely considered to be the deepest team in the league this year, and with multiple young players ready to fight it out for the spots that are now open that might not change. Signing Bryzgalov does not alter the fact that the team is still talented. Led by a number of veterans to accompany the young talent, this team is not looking to win their first cup since the 70s in four in five years, the target is next season. With a few more moves still up their sleeves, like possibly trading Versteeg and the 8th pick tonight, or Bobrovsky for a proven winger, this flyers roster is built to win now without the constant question of what to do regarding the goalie; a question that has surrounded the team since Ron Hextall was between the pipes. It’s a breath of fresh air to the Flyers franchise.

  4. theallsportskid says:

    I agree and I think Holmgren needs to take a deep breath. Bryzgalov isn’t even that worth it. I would understand if it was like Martin Brodeur but its Ilya Bryzgalov who played like crap most of the year.

  5. inurbase says:

    I agree with all the points you make except for the Lecavilier contract being a bust. For every Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby deal, there’s a deal like DiPietro or Redden. I still believe last summer’s monster deal (Kovalchuk) will pan out better than some of these long term deals, but that doesn’t mean the trend of absurdly long contracts is any less asinine.

  6. David Pavlak says:

    Nice post. The Flyers made some drastic moves that will either hurt them for some years or make them a stronger team in the coming seasons. I believe the Flyers will be prepared for this season and have a strong chance to make a Cup run. They will be younger, faster, and have a better scoring touch. Of course Carter’s 40 goals will be tough to lose on, but he was injury prone. Rumors are Stamkos or Richards may make their way to Philly with the extra money, and even someone like Gagne could be making a return as a veteran player for this young Flyers club. Right now the sky is the limit for the Fly Guys.

    If anyone wants to check out my post on this issue feel free. I am a devout Flyers fan.

  7. Nice work. I think it’s important to remember that goaltending is not the reason the Flyers lost to the Bruins. The fact that Homer was forced (ala Snider, or Snyder (Daniel Snyder!) as he is being called) to sign Bryzgalov based off what is actually a pretty big organizational myth that is not factually based. Critics of the goaltending never look at how poorly the team is playing in front of the goaltenders during their runs. In all honesty, even the Bernie the Great would not have led this team to a Cup final.

    The above article provides great insight to just how good the Flyers goaltending was this year. I’m not a proponent of Boucher to be a starter anywhere, but statistics do not lie.

    Now, you probably will not see PWB covering the Richards/Carter trade because Mike Richards was both of our favorite players and those posts would be written with a lot of emotion and not much objectiveness. Love the value of both deals, hate to see the Richards deal done–seems to be the consensus. However, we do like people reading our stuff and would be happy to get some new reactions on issues facing Philadelphia sports. Thanks ahead of time.

    For what it’s worth, the Bryz contract makes for a great trade potential between years 4 and 5. So there’s that.

  8. The Cutter says:

    It almost feels like these GMs don’t care about handing out long term deals mostly because they don’t expect to be around for the length of them. What’s the average life expectancy of an NHL GM? Probably less than 10 years.

  9. SportsLlama says:

    While I agree that long-term deals don’t always turn out as planned; (The Devil’s debacle with Kovalchuk last season, and we all know how well the DiPietro deal payed out for the Isles) I don’t see this one as being as monumentally tragic. Unlike the others, this deal was part of a greater plan. They’re not putting all of their eggs in Bryzy’s basket. I personally feel addressing their goaltending concerns should have been and was their top priority.

    I’m also viewing this deal from the perspective of a Ranger’s fan..

    I am more weary of the Flyers with Bryzgalov than without him. I would be much more willing to try and light up Boucher or Bobs on any given night. Or maybe, as a Rangers fan, I’m just desensitized to longterm pointless contacts.

  10. Odlaw Deraj says:

    Well written. I can’t help but think the Flyers are a little bit better after making these moves. Sure, they’re not as ‘sexy’ up front as they were with Carter and Richards…but adding a little more depth and youth isn’t all bad. I think they have a solid top 9 and should be able to generate some offence. The key to me is going to be whether or not Brayden Schenn cracks the lineup and/or the 8th overall pick from Columbus. Could be two wild cards heading into training camp.

    I had heard about Carter and Richards being ‘fun’ boys, and enjoying the night life. Hmm. Gotta be something there.

    As for Bryzgalov….geez. I don’t even know what to say other than this deal REEKS of desperation by Holmgren. Was he so desperate to get a starting goalie that he decided to lock up Ilya for 9 years?! 4 or 5 MAYBE. And not for that term. Good Lord, 9 years is a long time. Flyers’ fans better hope that Bryzzy is the next coming of Hextall…or they might just lose their minds. And to make him the HIGHEST PAID player next to Vinny in T-bay? Wow. That’s gutsy.

    What about Bobrovsky? If he’s close to being a starter, you have to imagine he wants out now. On the verge all of last season, and now, POOF! Relegated to be a back up for 9 years if he wants. Doubtful. Trade Bobrovsky, because really there’s no point in keeping him, other than his salary is cheaper than having to use Leighton next season. Poor kid.

    Good job! Look forward to reading more!

  11. I don’t agree with is your assessment that Jeff Carter is in decline. As you know, any number of mitigating factors contribute to goals being scored, include luck of the bounce. If a player is consistently hitting totals of 41, 36, and 33 in successive seasons, I don’t think that’s an indicator of a deterioration in play. He could have 38 playing more minutes and getting more Power Play time next year.

    I also don’t think the Brzgalov contract will prohibit the Flyers from retaining players like Schenn and JVR. League revenues, and thus the Salary Cap, have gone up in all but one of the seasons since the lockout. The better question is, will JVR, Giroux, and eventually Schenn commit to long-term deals after seeing what Flyers’ management did to Carter and Richards?

    The Bryzgalov contract may never be a bargain, but most teams (especially the consistently sucessful ones) are investing $5-$6 million in starting goaltending. The Red Wings/Flyers model (low investment in goaltending) has produced three Stanley Cup appearances in twelve opportunities; the rest of those slots are covered by the Tim Thomases, Roberto Luongoes, and Marc-Andre Fleurys of the world – elite goaltenders paid market value for their services.

    Here’s a video of Holmgren on the trades. You get the sense from reading other blogs and media sources that Holmgren was told by Ed Snider to get a goaltender under any circumstances. Moving Carter and/or Richards was probably necessary just to accommodate the Bryzgalov deal and ensure the team could fill out a roster:

  12. Michael Fogliano says:

    Great write-up Chris, the site looks great! I like the theme and it looks like you get a lot of hits!

  13. Great summary of the trades. I like the comparison of the players being in a marriage. The reason the Flyers made the 9 yrs 51 million dollar deal to a goalie was because Ed Snider said so. He is so bloodthirsty to win that he would do ANYTHING to keep a stud goaltender between the posts for the orange and black. I hope this guy pans out because i can’t imagine the chaos that would erupt.. oh wait yes i can. Carter and Richards were both 26 and potential at the roof. I agree with work ethic comes maturity. They weren’t ready to take the next big step, so Holmgren made it for them. The Canucks still had the best record in the league making it all the way to the cup. I believe the goalie is the key position in hockey. I understand the 64 million dollar contract, but Philadelphia Fans aren’t so willing to try new things. The goalie, Pronger and the kids this season. We shall see how this turns out.

  14. diamondjoe88 says:

    Being a Rangers fan,I hate the Flyers!! so i hope their organization goes down hill however, if they think getting rid of richards and carter is going to solve their problems then they have another thing coming. I mean sorry they could not score six goals a game to make up for the five goals a game their goaltender, whoever the hell it is, lets up on an almost nightly basis.

  15. Bobby Charts says:

    wow crazy, I do really like Hockey but I dont keep up on hockey as much as the big other 3, but i enjoy your hockey posts, it kinda keeps me in the loop, lol. nice read. keep it up!

  16. Nice piece Chris. I’m not sure what the Flyers are thinking after those three moves. The Bryzgalov signing is a little over the top, if you ask me. The trade of their captain, Mike Richards, is inexcusable. The Flyers could have gotten a better goalie for less, I’m not really convinced that Bryzgalov is “the one” for Philly.

  17. Rik Johnson says:

    A couple years ago Jeff Carter exploded into a so-called scoring machine with some multi-goal performance. I had no tv/radio access to the particular game but remember receiving several text messages aboot missing the “birth of a superstar”.
    I’m no pro analyst but my player evaluation comes from observing how a player acts/reacts on ice during a game.
    In Carter’s case, my opinion has always been he’s a “chucker” who gives up when things don’t go his way. When you throw almost 10 shots per game at net, some are bound to get through. This can be considered a good thing. However, that opportunity to make something happen is lost when you give up on the play, which is what I saw from #17 more often than not.

    Moving Mike Richards was funky. I get the feeling something weird was going down. We’ll never know. The feisty, no-quit Richards didn’t look right in Playoffs this year.
    If he stays healthy & the young guns of Los Angeles continue to develop, the Kings just positioned themselves as an elite team in the West. Of course, I know that’s a ridiculously safe & unrisky statement.

    For years, the Flyers netminder situation has been an issue. Going into the 2009-2010 season, it was finally (surprisingly) addressed with the acquisition of Ray Emery. To see a Philly sports organization nurse a “troubled” player with killer talent shouldn’t be shock (see Mike Vick, Allen Iverson & soon Plaxico Burress). Emery was the answer until he was injured. The Band-Aids that followed are solid back-up goaltenders. Neither suffice as starters for a Stanley Cup Final victory.
    Sergei Bobrovski got a nice swim in the big pool this year. Let him ease into the role over the next few years under fellow Russian, Ilya Brzygalov. The “Iron Curtain” backstops are a nice arrangement.

    Got beef? Bring it to The Welding Room! 10pm-12am every Monday night on WIFI-1460AM
    Listen live online @

    Good times! Thanks Chris.

  18. cordaro9418 says:

    The Flyers signed Jagr… and he picked Philly quite obviously for the money. How’s that for Same Old Same Old?

  19. Gary Horvath says:

    Hey man thanks for the comment. I love the passion you bring to this issue but I do have to disagree a little bit. Bringing in Bryzgalov is the key for us to win a Stanley Cup, and especially in the city of Philadelphia, it’s all about winning now. Holmgren would have gotten crucified by this city if he didn’t bring in a goal tender. Unfortunately, Bryzzy had a rather large ball in his court on these negotiations because he knew that too. The 9 years really is a formality. For the last few years of the contract he’s making under 2 mil a year, which at that point if he’s a backup, I can handle paying him. And what if he still can play at that point? Brodeur did it, Thomas did it, heck, even Dwayne Roloson did it this year for Tampa. I think Bryzzy will live out the worth of his contract. And if he doesn’t win a cup in the next 5 years, Holmgren’s gonna be out the door anyway so he really could care less about screwing the future of the team over. As for resigning guys like Giroux, JVR, and Schenn, they’ll always figure that out. Jagr’s only on a one year deal, the cap will probably continue to go up at some point like it did this year, and various other contracts will be expired, restructured, or whatever, to make sure those key players don’t go anywhere. All I know is I’m so pumped for this team. To say they can’t win a cup this year is ridiculous, but to say they’re the favorites would also be idiotic. We do have a legitimate 5 year window to be one of the top 4 teams in the East however, and I like those odds of a parade down Broad Street now that we finally have a goalie who knows how to keep his legs shut and not kick pucks directly to shooters in the high slot.

  20. bikey1277 says:

    Nope. Not next year or the year after that and on and on………. Bryzgalov just plain robbed the Flyers. Overplayed and, face it Flyer fans, he is not the answer. He is not Tim Thomas. Vokoun signed for 1.5 million for example. Schenn is not ready for the NHL stardom. He needs about 3 maybe 4 years to get to the top of his game ( whatever that will be ). Voracek and Simmonds are good for 20 goals each. In a year or two. Brad Richards went to New York, Gagne signed with LA, Stamkos won’t leave Tampa. Philly traded or lost 3 of the top six forwards. Versteeg is also gone. Zherdev on the way out. But hey, they signed Talbot and Jagr. Way to go, uncle Ed. And please don’t call GMs or anyone else brain-dead. Its disrespectful.

  21. Josh says:

    Good read.

    It’s nice to see some other people agreeing with long term contracts, especially the ones that bring players into their late 30’s and early 40’s. They will start to hurt teams in about 4 or 5 years and they will hurt badly. Adding Bryzgalov isn’t bad but adding him that long is. It just doesn’t make sense. They had Bobrovksy who they themselves mentioned as being the goalie of the future and then they turn around and show him he really isn’t.

    Not only that but I question the logic of making the forwards so young. Sure it looks like its smart but I don’t think it is. The forward corps will need to grow before it can really be effective. They are really betting a lot on the possibility that Giroux can keep up his 70 point plus play, that JVR’s round against Boston was his true side, that Voracek can take his game to the level, that Simmonds is more than just a top 9 forward and that Schenn can be Mike Richards 2.0 and isn’t being overrated. Adding Couturier also didn’t make much sense. They had such depth at forward, adding another one was just…odd. Why not grab a falling dman (Hamilton) to bring in when your two aging defenders (Pronger and Timonen) inevitable get older and less effective. Young forward core and aging defense core. It’s a weird dichotomy.

    I’m not sure I agree with you about Columbus. They tried the building through the draft and its failed spectactularily. They have drafted outside the 7th pick exactly once and all those high draft picks haven’t exactly worked out well outside of Nash. Carter gives them an impact player to build around long term. They couldn’t afford to wait another three years for the 8th pick to develop. They need talent long term and while I don’t like Carter’s long term contract, it assures Columbus that he stays with them. Scoring 46, 33 and then 36 isn’t exactly an easy thing in the NHL. Your understating his ability to score a little. For a team that has shown an shocking inability to develop impact players from top ten picks, grabbing Carter made a lot of sense. They gave up a lot but it was worth it in my opinion. Consistent young 30 goal snipers are hard to come by and the Blue Jackets now have two, both with the potential to hit 40 consistently. That makes them a more dangerous offensive team and a more desirable FA market.

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