For all the wonders of the Internet, it sure has made a night on the town a real pain for celebrities. This includes athletes, especially two prominent hockey players in a passionate sports city.
Today the players whose frat house boozing may have included a few too many brown bottles are Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and the city–now their former hockey city–is of course Philadelphia. Only a short time ago Carter and Richards were the cornerstones of the Flyers, with Richards wearing the captain’s “C.” Facing minimal wiggle room against the cap and needing to finally secure a reliable goalie (Ilya Bryzgalov), general manager Paul Holmgren dealt Carter to Columbus, and Richards to Los Angeles.
But a report emerged this morning in which two unnamed former teammates said that the Flyers’ front office was disappointed in the frequently lubricated lifestyles of Carter and Richards, and their disappointment heavily influenced the decision to trade the two players. Since then some Interweb rumours have also indicated that Carter and Richards were true champions, and were drinking while on prescription pain medication.
So is there truth to any of this? Probably not, but it makes for mildly entertaining late July hockey tabloid fodder.
Dan Gross of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke with the two unnamed players who revealed the details of a “Dry Island” in the Flyers’ locker room. It’s an island that Carter and Richards refused to visit, in addition to several other players:
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 wasn’t pleased that private locker room matters have now become public, and told Gross it’s “preposterous” that a penchant for partying factored into a massive decision to re-shape the entire Flyers’ offence.
He’s right. For young, wealthy athletes the temptations are lurking constantly, and the Internet documentations of Carter and Richards indulging in those temptations have become legendary. The studious pupils of Temple are quite familiar with Carter and Richards’ pursuit of free booze.
They even took their parties to Vancouver, because in the NHL you’re just not cool if you don’t get VIP at the Roxy.
C’mon, who hasn’t chugged a bottle of Jack while wearing aviators and having two young women grabbing at items of clothing? That’s just an average Tuesday night for me.
Perhaps these two boys were being boys a little too often, but as Travis Hughes of Broad Street Hockey observes, Gross’ unnamed sources didn’t even directly connect any dots between partying and their Philadelphia exodus. That’s from a gossip columnist who earns his living gossiping. There’s little dirt here, just talk about the future cultivation of dirt.
Hughes thinks the story is largely the product of the local media’s bitterness towards Richards, and says that normal young men capable of rational thought can separate work time and play time.
The local media could never stand the Flyers captain, and many of them were unable to look past his abrasive personality. This is fact and we all know it. They’re in their 20s and they’re millionaires that like to party, but there’s not a single indication that they ever did anything wrong besides having a little (or even a lot) of fun. I’m in my 20s and I like to go out and inebriate myself too. Guess what? I still get my damned job done.
To some it may be entertaining to speculate about the lives of young people with bloated bank accounts who live in the public eye. And don’t we all glance at the tabloid rags while standing in the grocery line? It’s a meaningless read, and a moment of diversion. But to even insinuate that Holmgren would dismantle the core of his offence because of a few too many body shots is taking that harmless, meaningless gossip, and turning it into sheer fantasy.
If you’d like more gossip, at the bottom of the same column Gross also catches you up on the latest happenings in the lives of Will Smith and M. Night Shymalan.
It’s riveting, and highly entertaining. For someone.