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Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and the ‘Dry Island’: Two unnamed Flyers blame duo’s departure on partying

Jul 25, 2011, 12:09 PM EDT

Philadelphia Flyers v Buffalo Sabres - Game Three Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers’ franchise seems like it’s been defined by two things: partying and bullying. (Meanwhile, winning and finding solid goaltending are things that tend to come and go.)

HBO’s brilliant documentary “Broad Street Bullies” pointed out that the 1970’s-era team wore black arm bands when their favorite bar burned to the ground. (If that’s not a brazen ode to boozing, I don’t know what is.) Many hockey message boards/rumor mills generated gossip about various Flyers players having illicit affairs with teammates’ significant others over the years. It’s probably not a totally accurate way of describing the way the team does business, but sometimes these myths become larger than the truth in this modern, media-saturated era. Some might sense that Philly fans aren’t shy about appreciating players who are as hard-drinking as they are hard-nosed.

It’s no secret that many believe the surprising departures of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter had much more to do with “character issues” and “locker room chemistry” than on-ice performance. That being said, there really haven’t been many details floating around in major outlets, leaving fans to imagine all kinds of over-the-top scenarios.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Dan Gross published a rather interesting bit of gossip regarding the team’s inner politics today. Gross wonders if the duo of centers were indeed scuttled out of town because of their partying habits, citing two unnamed Flyers who provided their theories.

It’s important to note that those Flyers were anonymous, so apply the typical grains of salt. The more interesting detail, however, was one that even Flyers GM Paul Holmgren couldn’t deny.

Shortly after his arrival in December 2009, coach Peter Laviolette instituted what players came to call the “Dry Island.” Laviolette asked team members to commit to not drinking for a month, and each player was asked to write his number on a locker room board as a pledge. No. 17 (Carter) and No. 18 (Richards) were absent from the board on the first Dry Island, as well as the estimated five more times the policy was instituted.

In a phone interview Thursday, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren confirmed that Richards and Carter hadn’t put their numbers on the board, but said there had been others who declined. “We carry 23 players and there wasn’t 23 numbers up there.”

Holmgren was “really upset that this is out there. That’s our locker room. Our inner sanctum. Our board. Someone’s crossing a line here,” in discussing the Dry Island.

Don’t be surprised if clever Flyers fans respond to an especially heinous hangover by saying “Guys, this hangover makes me want to go to the Dry Island for a few weeks.” Of course, Holmgren also denied that Richards and Carter were traded because of their partying ways and Carter’s agent Rick Curran voiced a strong opinion about the matter as well.

Carter’s agent, Rick Curran, told us it was “bull—-” to suggest that the two were traded because of their partying. “You’re telling me a number of accusations [that] they are out partying and not focused on hockey. For someone to suggest that behind doors without having the balls to come out publicly, consider it for what it is,” Curran told us.

Perhaps Curran touches on a great concern that the Flyers couldn’t just trade away: it seems like the team has trouble keeping their locker room business private. Perhaps that’s toll one pays for doing business in a media atmosphere like Philadelphia, but that might be the clearest lesson from these issues.

On a whole, the Flyers have actually been a consistently successful hockey team. That hasn’t kept their club from being surrounded by drama, though. It’s hard to say that era is over even without Carter and Richards in the fold (whether they really lived up to their reputations or not).

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

  1. blastfurnaceknows - Jul 25, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    How bad does one have to behave to be sent away by the Flyers for “character issues?” Up until now, I had assumed that only mass murder would qualify.

    • paulsdamnblog - Jul 25, 2011 at 2:52 PM

      You’re not far off, remember Billy Tibbetts?

  2. nhlbruins90 - Jul 25, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Let’s see now, I make 7 million a year for part-time work with amazing benefits, and as part of the deal, the boss asks me to stay dry for a month. That’s just too easy. If it’s my team, and a player can’t comply with that simple request, get the f**k out. And if you can’t keep from screwing each other’s SO’s, expect to be traded frequently, until there are no more teams stupid enough to take you.

    Honestly, these guys are spoiled from the time they’re teenagers. Over-indulged millionaires. No character. Something tells me that if they didn’t have the great careers they do, and had to actually work for a living, they’d STILL be the same bunch of overgrown adolescents. While it’s mildly entertaining to watch on Jersey Shore, it’s pathetic to watch in the NHL.

    Fortunately, there are far more character guys in the NHL than these types of morons. In today’s NHL, you need character on a team to win the Cup. It’s more professional and competitive than it used to be. Which is why Chara, Bergeron, Recchi, Thomas, and the majority of the rest dispatched these clowns in four. Remember, the partying comes AFTER you win. Seriously, don’t they know the meaning of the word moderation.

    • marchris72 - Jul 26, 2011 at 3:46 PM

      Sorry, had to comment on this post. I bought a round for Recchi and saw him many times at a bar called Kaminski’s when he was with the Flyers…he, Brashear and Robert Esche (who had his own reputation for partying) were there a lot. He also left everything on the ice when he played. Players can have a beer or two and still be competitive but that comes from within. Richards started out with fire, was ordained the second coming of Clarkie too quickly and let off the gas pedal. He may not have the fire within to win the Cup. I do know the partying thing is true from a girl who partied with them but don’t label the team because of two individuals. As far as the Bruins dispatching the Flyers… Tim Thomas beat them…had they better goaltending, it may have been a different series.

      • nhlbruins90 - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:50 AM

        I’m sure there are guys who can enjoy the good life, and still leave it all out on the ice when it counts. I’ve seen many of them, up close and personal. It’s good to be young and rich, and nobody expects them to be altar boys.

        However, my point is more that the company makes a request of you, do you comply or not. People who make a lot less have much more onerous requirements for their careers than just staying sober for a month. It’s a measure of your commitment to the team, the company and the end goal.

        I’d never ask Recchi to abstain for a month. He’s a 40-something year old man with a long track record. No need to, his work speaks for itself. However, if a younger player was going off the beam, that’s a different story. Get with the program or get out. Cashing that check means you gotta do lots of things you would rather not do. Most people learn that lesson for less than 50k a year. Deal with it.

        As for the sweep. Thomas was the better goaltender in all four series. We only swept one team.

  3. hystoracle - Jul 25, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    The Flyers had so many questions about the character of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter that they made them Captain and an Assistant Captain.

    • stakex - Jul 26, 2011 at 1:02 AM

      …and then traded them for no apparent reason when they were the two of the top players on the team (and just a year after they gave Carter an 11 year contract).

      Who knows what it was exactlly, but SOMETHING happened behind the scene to cause this trade. The Flyers didn’t dump two of their top players for the hell of it.

  4. ecnewman - Jul 25, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Isn’t Dan Gross a gossip columnist? The entire article is based off of two UNNAMED players, supposedly. Sorry, I just don’t buy any of it. Let the guys go in peace. The trade was over a month ago. Let’s move on, people.

  5. derpdederpdederp - Jul 26, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    whichever Flyer came out and said that is probably just mad that as the stars of the team those guys were partying and getting laid way more than the guy who made the comments

  6. jpelle82 - Jul 26, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    who cares

  7. loslonelyman - Jul 27, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    I live in Southern New Jersey and i am out at drinking establishments on average 4 times a month. Two suburban towns that 50% of the Flyers call home(Marlton and Cherry Hill) are my stomping grounds. Literally, i have seen both Carter and Richards poop faced drunk after games at the Marlton Tavern and Kaminski’s(Cherry Hill) more times than high school rejects i grew up with. One night they were out with Donald Brashear and my buddy bumped into him(Brashear) and a brawl almost insued. At least Phillies and Eagles players get VIP tables/sections and keep themselves out of trouble. Flyers players walk around like heroes/soldiers returning from war and act like idiots.One night we hung out with Kid Rock and his posse in Tampa FL,at several bars and strip clubs and after a 12 hour bender….NOT ONE INCIDENT. Yet,Flyers players make it a habit to start nonsense. Flyer’s GM Paul Holmgren has had TWO DUI’s,so he is no choir boy,but even he has to be embarrassed by his two CORNERSTONE players behavior.

    • nhlbruins90 - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:32 AM

      Yup, that’s the stuff they don’t want you to know. Back in the day, I worked the bars in Boston and saw all the NHL guys out on the town. Lots of good guys just drinking for the most part, but there are always the exceptions. And there was one player who got into very, very serious trouble with the law, and after that episode was over, let’s just say the fluffy story he told to the press didn’t quite match up with what I saw. Don’t believe the drivel they give to the press, it’s mostly fluff.

      You’re right, with a GM having two DUI’s, what kind of standards can the organization possibly have? I believe Harry Sinden had a drink and drive problem way back when, and on several occasions he talked about it in the press … along the lines of ‘I learned my lesson guys, don’t let it happen to you.’ I believe he was sincere That sets a higher standard than having a repeat offender running the show.

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