Breakups can be difficult, especially when they are with someone you’ve been with for quite some time or someone you have admired for years. Emotional heartstrings can be tugged and dismay could ensue.
But in the end, sometimes the best option for both parties is to just walk away and move on.
No matter how bitter the pills may be to swallow, Paul Holmgren and the Flyers were wise to turn away from the salary demands of Matt Carle and Jaromir Jagr, and let the free agents go in another direction last week.
Carle, who had been in Philadelphia since November of 2008 when he was acquired along with a third round draft pick from Tampa Bay, signed a six-year deal worth $5.5 million per year with those same Bolts.
Jagr, the legendary winger, somewhat shockingly fled to Dallas on a one-year $4.5 million deal.
Both deals may have caught Flyer fans off guard.
The sometimes underappreciated (but steady) Carle was a defensive cornerstone for the Flyers during his four seasons in Philadelphia. He tallied 15 goals and 122 assists, good for 137 regular season points as a member of the Orange and Black. You can also throw three goals and 20 assists good for 23 playoff points in there too.
Where Carle really helped the defense was the amount of time he spent on the ice. His versatility was key, as he was able to play on both the power play and penalty kill. Including playoffs, number 25 averaged 23:19 of ice time per game, allowing seasoned, hardened veterans like Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger to gain as much rest as possible.
Speaking of Mr. Pronger, he was Carle’s usual and most high-profiled partner along the blue line. The one whole season they played together, the 2009-2010 run to the Final, is universally regarded as Carle’s best all around season as a pro. Call it the Pronger Effect.
But, alas, the Pronger Effect also has reverse ramifications. As we all know, Pronger hasn’t been able to stay on the ice consistently over the past two seasons and it seemingly took a toll on Carle’s game.
Carle seemed to be overmatched and unconfident at times as the defensive carousel continued to turn. He fought the puck more often than he did when paired with Pronger. Take for example his gaffe in front of his own net that cost the Flyers a game against the Lightning in March.
Don’t get it twisted, Matt Carle is a very good defenseman in this league, but he’s not a number-one defenseman and likely not a number-two either. A salary $5.5 million per year is way too much for Carle’s services unless Chris Pronger is his defensive partner, and the Flyers’ brass realized that. The team is better off going with a younger guy like Bourdon or Gustafsson as a sixth defenseman for a season before making a run at top-tier defenseman next off-season.
Once Ryan Suter was off the market, some team was bound to overpay for Carle. Luckily, it wasn’t the Flyers.
The departure of Jaromir Jagr was a bit more stunning than the departure of Carle.
The prolific 40-year-old winger, who made $3.3 million last season, left the Flyers to take a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Dallas Stars.
It was stunning for a few reasons, including the dollar amount for, the team and the fact that Dallas is in the Western Conference and has what many to consider to be the worst travel schedule in the league, which for sure will take its toll on a 40-year-old body.
But perhaps the biggest stunner in his leaving Philadelphia was how much Jagr said he enjoyed the city, the fans and, most of all, his teammates. He went on record multiple times saying that this past season was the most fun he ever had in the NHL. That’s saying something coming from a guy who was drafted in 1990 and played with Mario Lemieux.
Jagr, who posted 54 points (19 goals, 35 assists) in his only season in Philadelphia, brought intangibles that can’t be measured or tracked by statistics to the locker room. He brought leadership and confidence to a young team. Even though they flamed out against the Devils in the playoffs, he taught the Flyers how to be winners. Most of all, he helped Cluade Giroux in his maturation process of becoming the NHL’s next big thing.
Jags, as he was affectionally referred to, was adored by his teammates.Matt Read,Max Talbot and Jake Voracek all took to twitter to share their feelings on #68 heading west. As you can surmise from those tweets, Jagr’s departure will leave a void in the locker room, where his not being there will hurt the most.
Where it certainly won’t hurt the Flyers is in the wallet. Dallas is a team that needed to spend to get to cap floor, but $4.5 million for 40-year-old with an iffy groin is a real stretch. Jagr is a legend, but Paul Holmgren rightfully didn’t give into his demands.
Looking down the road, the Flyers’ willingness to save money could prove to be pure genius about a year from now.
Have you seen the2013 free agency class? It’s totally stacked at the top with names like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Jarome Iginla, just to name a few. And, unless he signs a deal with Nashville or an offer sheet with another team, you can throw Shea Weber’s name on that list too. You know Paul Holmgren and his staff are just salivating at some of those names, especially that of Mr. Weber.
Add in the fact that the Flyers will have re-sign key stalwarts Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen, the lack of spending this off-season and the willingness not to give into Carle and Jagr’s salary demands makes sense and could payoff in a big way for the Orange and Black.