The Devils may have lost the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Stanley Cup might still be going to New Jersey this summer. Sea Isle, to be specific.
Sea Isle is Jeff Carter’s traditional summer hangout, and the former Flyer might grace his favorite beach community with the Stanley Cup, which he and good friend Mike Richards won Monday night with the Los Angeles Kings.
Carter scored two goals and Richards contributed two assists as the Kings defeated the Devils, 6-1, to clinch the first Stanley Cup in Kings history.
Carter’s Cup-winning goal, assisted by Richards (and Dustin Brown)
This was the first Stanley Cup in the Kings’ franchise history. It also is the first Stanley Cup for Carter and Richards, as well as for former Flyer Simon Gagne. During the Cup celebration, Gagne was the third King to skate with the Cup, an honor the classy Gagne received for winning the first Cup of his long career.
Another poignant moment during the celebration came when Richards handed the Cup to Carter. The moment when the two former and current teammates and housemates held the Cup at the same time is a moment this duo has dreamed about. That dream was supposed to occur in orange and black (below), of course, but there were a few detours along the way.
Drafted by the Flyers in the first round of the 2003 draft — Carter 11th overall and Richards 24th — Carter and Richards won the AHL’s Calder Cup with the Philadelphia Phantoms. It seemed destiny that they would win a Stanley Cup with the Flyers, but it never happened. The Flyers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2009-10 season, but lost to the Blackhawks.
Their dreams of winning a Stanley Cup together seemed to end with the shocking trades last June of Carter to Columbus and Richards to the Kings. But those dreams were revived when the Kings acquired Carter from the Blue Jackets before the trade deadline.
Carter’s presence had a domino effect, revitalizing the Kings’ last-in-the-NHL offense. His presence helped take the pressure off the top line of Anze Kopitar, captain Dustin Brown and former Flyer Justin Williams and, because players moved down a line, improved the third and fourth lines as well. Carter’s presence also rejuventated Richards’ moribund offense.
Richards and Carter were reunited — and it felt so good. Both played on both the power play and penalty kill. They also frequently took key defensive zone faceoffs. There also was a comfort level between back with an old friend. Carter moved into Richards’ home, reliving their early Flyers days, when they were housemates.
But they accomplished something with the Kings that they didn’t do with the Flyers: they won the Stanley Cup. Carter finished the postseason tied for the lead in playoff goals (8). Richards finished with four goals and 11 assists, the same totals as Williams.
There were many heroes in the Kings’ pursuit of the Cup. Goalie Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy, a deserved honor considering that the Kings didn’t allow more than three goals in any playoff game. Brown and Kopitar both finished with 8 goals and 12 assists. Drew Doughty demonstrated why he’s one of the top defensemen in the NHL.
But the Kings probably wouldn’t have achieved their goal without Carter and Richards achieving their own dreams.
So there is a happy ending to Carter’s and Richards’ pursuit of their dreams. Or is this just the beginning?