Let the record show that the day the Flyers decided to blow up the nucleus of their team was June 23, 2011.
Thursday started with the Flyers' need to begin to clear cap space in order to sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
In a span of just a few hours, general manager Paul Holmgren traded away not only leading scorer Jeff Carter but also team captain Mike Richards in two separate trades within 30 minutes of each other.
"Today was a huge day for the Flyers organization," Holmgren said at a press conference in Minneapolis. "What we've done today is change the direction of our organization with these two moves. I’ve always said over the last few years that I like our team. I still like our team, it’s just a different team."
The moves left the remainder of the NHL - not to mention the Flyers' fan base - in total shock.
"Those are two elite players to be traded in one day," Columbus general manager Scott Howson told reporters. "It's a little bit unprecedented in our league."
Howson acquired Carter by sending off Jakub Voracek, the 8th overall pick in Friday's Entry Draft, and a third round pick to the Flyers. He also said the Flyers repeatedly asked about prospect Ryan Johansen, who the club opted not to move.
It seems like Howson pressed the Flyers into making the move, saying it "got to a point where it just had to be done" before the draft.
"I don't take trading away a Jake Voracek — a 21-year-old player that's got tremendous upside — or the eighth overall pick lightly, but our fans have been very patient," Howson said. "It's been 10 years now. And we just had to do something that's going to make us better right now."
Carter has averaged 38 goals over each of the last three seasons and was about to begin an 11-year, $58 million contract extension next season. Through his agent, Rick Curran, Carter said he would need at least the weekend to gather his thoughts before addressing the trade publicly.
It is unclear at this time whether close friend Richards requested a trade from the Flyers.
Holmgren said both players were "very upset" and emotional during their trade calls.
“Those are two hard phone calls to make," Holmgren said. "I think the world of both of them. That’s difficult, that’s the hard part of the job. That was tough. They both made long-term commitments to stay in Philadelphia. Probably at a lower number [than they could've gotten]."
Richards will be re-united with former coach and mentor John Stevens in Los Angeles, where he was shipped in exchange for forwards Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a second round pick.
Simmonds, 22, and the 19-year-old Schenn, accompanied by the 21-year-old Voracek have not only significantly reduced the Flyers' salary cap stress but also their new team's average age.
Voracek was drafted 7th overall in 2007 and Schenn was the 5th overall pick in 2009. Schenn is the brother of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn.
With the moves, Holmgren said the goal was to spread the depth from center to wing while adding size.
"We were a little bit overloaded in the middle of the ice," Holmgren said. "To take a step back and try to add size on the wing, and still maintain our presence in the middle... We’re a much different team."
As if that wasn't enough for the day - on a day that the Flyers were officially added on the schedule as the recipient of the 2012 Winter Classic on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park - they dotted the i's and crossed the t's with Bryzgalov on a 9-year, $51 million deal. That means Bryzgalov, who turned 31 this week, will have a $5.667 cap hit until he is 40 years old.
It's safe to say that Flyers chairman Ed Snider now has his man. It only cost the gut of his team.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers
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