What Holmgren did was not to simply create salary cap room. One does not trade the faces of his franchise in order to lock up a new goalie. The Flyers could have kept both of the players they traded away yesterday afteroon and signed Ilya Bryzgalov to the same contract and made the numbers work by moving other players.
He chose to change not just the face of his hockey club, but also it's essence.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were the face of the Flyers franchise. They were the twin pillars that were the crux of the team's drive to a championship. Veterans like Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen were added to help them navigate the waters to the Stanley Cup.
Along the way, a kid from tiny Hearst, Ontario came along and wrested the role of being the team's franchise player out of the hands of Richards and Carter. Make no mistake, Claude Giroux is the franchise now.
Chris Pronger will get his share of the blame, and much will be made about his relationship with Richards. It's likely Pronger will replace Richards as the Flyers captain, and people will say that his relationship with Richards was untenable and couldn't be fixed so Richards was dealt.
I won't deny that there were issues. However to point to those issues now and say they were the end all, be all of the moves made yesterday is really stupid. The Flyers didn't trade Richards or Carter because they partied too heartily. They didn't trade Richards or Carter because they weren't good with the media. They traded them for a multitude of factors.
The Flyers have been a team that has been a Jeckyll and Hyde group since they rose from the ashes of the 2006-07 death march. Flyers fans have long joked about the team flipping the switch and going from the gang that couldn't shoot straight to SEAL Team 6.
They are the team with the 3rd highest playoff win total in the past 4 years. But they're also a team that crept into the playoffs in the last couple of days of the season in 2 out of the last 3 years. The same team that went to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final was also the team that needed a shootout win to even make the playoffs that year.
The local media had fun taking their potshots at the Flyers younger players that lived in Old City Philadelphia and lived lives with active social careers. Even yesterday, as Carter and Richards were dealt, several writers couldn't resist the urge to drop in a shot as the pair left town.
The media was not why the Flyers parted way with Richards and Carter yesterday, but the media won no respect in the way they covered the team. One hopes that Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek follow the lead of guys like Giroux, Briere and Pronger and play the game with the media, lest they get slammed for not being a good interview.
But, I digress. More than making cap room, the Flyers yesterday sent a message. That message wasn't to curtail the social life, or even to play nice with the media. The message was that flipping the switch was no longer a practical or workable situation. The message was sent loud and clear and there's no uncertainty about it.
The Flyers got a fair return yesterday for two guys they had been building around. They're not starting over or rebuilding. They are simply saying that nobody is safe if they can't bring their A game on every single night.