Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were shaken to their cores on June 24, 2011.
Three hundred and thirty-nine days after Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren banished them following a second-round series sweep to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, Carter and Richards were surrounded by reporters at Stanley Cup Media Day.
It has been a bizarre, circuitous route to the pinnacle of their profession for the inseparable friends.
“It was obviously a tough go — something that Mike and I didn’t expect — being traded from Philly,” Carter said. “I’m excited with the way things have worked out.”
Carter was shipped to Columbus for Jakub Voracek and two draft picks while Richards was traded to the Kings for Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a second-round draft pick.
Long regarded as one of the NHL’s best two-way players, Richards had a solid first season with the Kings, finishing with 18 goals and 44 points, along with a plus-three rating in 74 regular season games.
But Carter was not nearly as successful in the barren outpost of Columbus. Carter, among the league’s pre-eminent snipers, recorded only 25 points in 39 games before being traded to the Kings on Feb. 23 for Jack Johnson and a draft pick.
Carter scored nine points in his 16 regular season games with L.A., and has added another nine in the playoffs.
“It was exciting. I knew I was coming to a great team that had a chance to play in the playoffs,” Carter said of the trade to the Kings. He added that Columbus general manager Scott Howson informed him about the trade to L.A. “As a player, that’s what you want.”
Oh captain, my American captain
An American captain will win the Cup for the second time in NHL history. That much is known. What is unknown is whether it will be Zach Parise or Dustin Brown who accepts the Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
The teammates on the 2002-03 and 2003-04 U.S. World Junior Championship squads and the 2010 Olympic silver-medal winning team now find themselves facing off.
“With him it’s a lot of fun; he’s a special player,” Brown said during his media availability Tuesday afternoon. “Playing against him is not the [most fun]. The one thing I say about Zach is that you’re not going to find a more-skilled guy who competes harder. He has first-line skill and a fourth-line mentality and work ethic. He probably works harder than any high-end skill guy that I’ve seen.”
The first American captain to win the Cup was Derian Hatcher with the Dallas Stars in 1998-99.
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman for all the news from the Stanley Cup finals.