R.J. Umberger never wanted to leave Philadelphia.
The Flyers tattoo, that you can read about in Wednesday’s Daily News, could probably tell you that much alone.
So could his play last night. Umberger nearly stole the spotlight from Jeff Carter and the Flyers as he scored two goals and came inches away from the hat trick.
In fact, Umberger was so close to tipping a point shot from Antoine Stralman behind Ray Emery that mans fans thought he did – and threw hundreds of hats on Orange Crush baseball cap giveaway night onto the ice.
It was the first time I’ve ever seen fans celebrate an alleged hat trick for an opposing player.
But Umberger wasn’t just any opposing player. In a string of “Sucks!” chants in response to the Blue Jackets’ starters being announced in warmups, Umberger was the only player to draw a cheer.
And he was stunned by the hats.
“With them noticing the effort I put in here and how much it meant for me to be a Flyer, it was a great feeling,” Umberger said.
Umberger single-handedly erased a 2-0 deficit for Columbus and made it 2-2. The Flyers went on to win, 5-3, after Carter responded for the Flyers.
Umberger said before the game that he “poured his soul” into being a Flyer. Remember that hit from Brian Campbell in the first OT of Game 1 of that Flyers / Sabres playoff series in 2006? What about those 10 goals in the 2008 playoff run that got the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals? Umberger played the game right in Philadelphia.
He was traded to Columbus on Draft day in 2008. The deal was essentially for Luca Sbisa and third round pick Marc-Andre Bourdon. Sbisa was traded to Anaheim. Bourdon plays for the Phantoms. Umberger scored 20 goals last season.
For a few minutes on Tuesday night, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren probably wished he could take that one back.