Those that have been reading the blog for a majority of my tenure know that I was not happy when Joffrey Lupul was allegedly picking partying over nursing a twice operated upon back. Several message boards went wild with reports of other injured players allegedly spending more time with girls that should be in rehab than rehabbing their own injuries. I don't think that sort of outcry should be surprising. Athletes are paid millions of dollars to be athletes. Their bodies are the reason they make money. Getting the body back in working condition should be a priority not an afterthought.
Yet, where do you draw the line when the player is healthy? On Monday, Puck Daddy unearthed the legend that is now "Dry Island". Dan Gross of the Philadelphia Daily News reported that during the season, Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette requested that the Flyers abstain from drinking for one month. This request was repeated five times throughout the season. Long story short, two of the most notable players not to participate - even once - in "Dry Island" are now ex-Flyers - Jeff Carter and Mike Richards (BOOOO! Sorry. Kings-reflux disease). Of the unnamed players that leaked the story to Gross, it was all but outright stated that Richards and Carter were (allegedly) traded for their party boy antics.
You would assume that for Laviolette to issue such a challenge, assuming Richards and Carter were the targets, was due to the players lack of production or games missed from injury. Looking at the guys' stats, the results after the jump will surprise you.
|2010 - Mike Richards||81||23||43||66||11||62||5||3||4||184|
|2010 - Jeff Carter||80||36||30||66||27||39||8||0||7||335|
Looks like a pretty solid season to me; however, I am not one that lives and dies by Flyers hockey. There could be more to this story than I realize, but from an outsider's perspective, I don't see what the big deal is.
Richards and Carter are 26 years old. Both are millionaires and superstars in Philly. 26 wasn't that long ago for me, but I think about my early twenties. If I had the same resources as those two and was able to fully function after a night (or seven) of partying, I absolutely wouldn't join a pact such as Dry Island. I think it was downright ridiculous to ask Richy Rich and Mr. Carter (not to mention the rest of the team) to change their social habits when their play is not being negatively impacted. Could they have had a better season? Sure, but I doubt the lack of booze would have been the reason.
In a way, I'm not surprised by this story. Many assumed that Joffrey Lupul and Scottie Upshall were Flyers GM
Dean Wormer Paul Holmgren's first anti-Animal House victims. (This was mentioned on Monday's Puck Daddy Radio. As said on the podcast, Holmgren dismissed this assumption by stating that he was trading Lupul because he had the opportunity to get Chris Pronger.) A little hard to believe that Pronger was the sole reason to move Lupul one year into a four year deal. C'mon, Lupul, Upshall, Carter and Richards were living every boy's (secret) dream of being a real world version of Entourage. Being the Mean Girls of the locker room wasn't going to fly with Holmgren.
Still, the question remains. When players are completely healthy and able to do their jobs on the ice, should they be expected to not enjoy the spoils of their life's work? As pro-athletes, these guys didn't go to college or experience the same rites of passage many of us did. Hell, I spent the first two years of my life at SDSU in a drunken stupor (not my proudest moment). I'm more willing to forgive them for boozing it up after a game than I am to see them getting "therapy" for an injury at the Playboy Mansion.
Now it's your turn America. Time to lock in your votes! Should players be expected to go along with requests like Dry Island?