Laviolette, Briere stunned by trade

Posted: June 23, 2011

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette had mixed emotions after one of the most stunning days in the franchise's history.

Ditto star center Danny Briere.

On one hand, both were excited about the young talent and draft picks the Flyers had acquired Thursday - and the cap space they gained to sign goalie Ilya Bryzgalov - by dealing Mike Richards to Los Angeles and his best friend, Jeff Carter, to Columbus.

On the other hand . . .

"It's tough to talk about the players going and the players coming at the same time," Laviolette said from Minneapolis, site of Friday's first round of the NHL draft. "We got younger and bigger, and we're adding a goaltender and depth. But the emotions are tough when you're talking about [trading] two players who went to battle for you and went to the Cup Finals with you. That makes it a difficult day.

"When you talk about Mike and Jeff, you're talking about the face of the organization the last few years, certainly with the forwards," he added.

Briere, in a phone conversation from Quebec, said he was floored by the developments.

"I'm shocked. I never saw it coming," he said. "There were rumors, and I knew something might happen, but to see both go, I'm shocked."

Briere paused.

"It's never fun to see teammates go, but that's the business side of it."

The Flyers acquired young forwards Wayne Simmonds and ultra-promising Brayden Schenn from Los Angeles and forward Jakub Voracek from Columbus. They also picked up first- (eighth overall) and third-round selections from the Blue Jackets and a second-round choice from the Kings.

In addition, the Flyers paved the way to re-sign winger Ville Leino, a prospective free agent, with the cap space they created.

"I'll be very excited if we get Ville back," said Briere of his linemate.

The deal also allows the Flyers to keep their defense intact. Teams, knowing the Flyers had to unload salary to sign Bryzgalov, had been inquiring about defensemen Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle.

General manager Paul Holmgren received lots of calls about Richards and Carter, but the Flyers didn't want to make a deal unless they were overwhelmed, a club source said.

"We weren't shopping them," said Peter Luukko, president of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor.

But the talks intensified when Holmgren got to Minneapolis a few days ago, and on Thursday morning they decided to roll the dice.

"It was strictly a situation where the hockey department thought what was offered would make us a better team," Luukko said.

"Today we're a different team, and I really like the way it's structured right now," Holmgren said.

Richards and Carter were the last of an era, players who came up through the system with former coach John Stevens. Now, the team belongs to the 23-year old Claude Giroux and the 22-yeard old James Van Riemsdyk.

"Certainly the emergence of Claude over the past few years has been a factor," said Holmgren who compared Giroux to Richards.

Luukko said it was "difficult" for Holmgren to part with the two stars because "he had drafted them and watched them grow and have success."

One of the best parts about the moves, Luukko said, "is that it gives us a world-class goalie. And Paul had worked hard to put a great D together - and that doesn't have to be broken up now. We got a little bigger, faster and stronger, and it gives us financial flexibility to make moves down the road."

In other words, look for Leino to be back.

Richards' aloofness and testiness with the media "did not play a part" in the trade, Luukko said. "At the end of the day, we view what the player does on the ice."

There was speculation after the season that Richards should hand over the captain's role to a teammate. Now the "C" will be given to either Chris Pronger, Briere or Kimmo Timonen, a source said.

Laviolette said he will talk with Holmgren about who wears the C."

"It's not overrated at all," he said about the role of the captain. "I think it's very important."

Briere, once a co-captain in Buffalo, said "there are lots of leaders who don't wear the letter." If he was named, "it would be a great honor, but it's not just one guy that leads."


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or on Twitter at BroadStBull.

Staff writer Tim Rohan contributed to this article.

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