Flyers Partying Blown Out of Proportion

It's not like the guys were going on coke binges or stabbing each other in the neck with scissors

“Dry Island” is not the working title of a network reality show where the “stars” from Celebrity Rehab try to break up each others’ marriages at some remote locale in the Caribbean. No, “Dry Island” is actually what Flyers coach Peter Laviolette named his ploy to curb the hockey team’s drinking habits by asking everyone to put down the bottle for a month at a time—something that probably wasn’t a terrible idea.

The Flyers have built themselves a reputation over the past few years as a team that knows how to make the most of Philadelphia’s nightlife. Guys like Richards, Carter, Upshall and Lupol Lupul were practically Old City landmarks. They’d run up tabs, hit on sorority girls and were never too concerned about the photo evidence of their revelry. So, when the team dealt Lupol in the trade for Pronger, it seemed as though the organization was sending a message: It didn’t like the players’ social agenda and would take that into consideration when building the team for the future.

Then—earlier this summer—Holmgren effectively blew up the team’s identity by trading known-bro Jeff Carter and captain Mike Richards. You don’t part ways with franchise faces entering the prime of their careers unless you have a chasm in philosophies as far as the team’s future is concerned. You only trade that kind of player if you think the team needs a new identity—like an identity without a propensity for body shots.

Recently, the DN’s Dan Gross reported that some of the team’s current players think that part of the reason the duo was shipped out of town was because they wouldn’t participate in Lavy’s “Dry Island,” and now reports suggest that Richards and Carter were being prescribed pain medication while they were partaking in the Center City socialite scene.

While I think that it’s glaringly obvious that their nightlife and subsequent substance consumption rituals had something to do with the organization’s decision to get rid of them, it’s important to put that idea in perspective. Mike Richards isn’t season seven’s version of Vinny Chase—bringing bags of cocaine into hospitals and keeping company with porn stars (Well, at least not the drugs in hospitals part). It’s not like these guys were the ’86 Mets—going on coke binges and being banned from airlines. They weren’t getting arrested with prostitutes and heavy narcotics or stabbing each other in the neck with scissors like the Cowboys of the 1990s. Hell, they certainly weren’t as bad as Philly’s own “Macho Row” back in ’93. Sure, those guys brought home an NL pennant, but it definitely wasn’t achieved while adhering to a strict code of moral conduct (See Dykstra, Lenny).

These guys came to Philly when they were just kids and acted accordingly. Now the organization has a new crew of kids ready to play some puck in Pennsylvania’s biggest city. Here’s to hoping they’ve learned from the mistakes of those before them and can cut out the booze—or at least keep their quest for social lubricant and female companionship out of the papers … and radios and TVs and magazines and blogs.