Flyers Now Afraid of Nothing

Flyers-Montreal hockey playoff action

The best part of the Flyers clinching last night?

Watching Philadelphia captain Mike Richards embrace the Wales Trophy.

Many, many players believe if you touch the conference-clinching trophy, you won’t win the Cup. Also, many players believe that by ignoring the trophy, you’re sending the message you only care about winning the Cup.

After some debate about what to do about the trophy, Richards totally went for it:

There was actually a little bit of a debate on the ice…I thought about it a bit [Sunday] night. My first instinct was to grab it. Obviously, it took us a lot to get here and obviously [that’s] not the trophy that we want. But we haven’t done anything conventional all year, especially in these playoffs, so I might as well go against the grain one more time.

Meanwhile, when the Blackhawks clinched the West, Jonathan Toews kept an arm behind his back, just to make sure he didn’t accidentally touch the Campbell Trophy.

Toews said it wasn’t a superstition issue, though:

I had thought about [whether to touch the Campbell Trophy] a long time ago and I just think maybe to some people it looks like it’s a lack of confidence to not touch it or it’s a superstitious thing, but I think it shows more confidence. To us, it’s a made-up trophy for winning the Western Conference. You know, big deal, it’s not what we’re after. We’re here to win the Stanley Cup. That celebration with the fans and us getting these hats, that’s enough for us. We’re going to keep going. We’re not satisfied yet.

I have to say, from a confidence perspective, I think it’s pretty impressive that Richards went for it. As soon as he did that, I knew the Flyers saw themselves as a team in control of their own destiny. Richards sent a message to his team and to the Blackhawks that Philadelphia is a team that will win and lose on its own terms.

I know Richards takes a lot of heat for his captain-ing abilities, but grabbing the Wales was a great gesture that let his team see the only thing the Flyers need to believe in are their own abilities.

Conversely, by not picking up the Campbell Trophy, Toews sends a little bit of a nervous vibe about the playoffs. I get that he says the Blackhawks only want the Cup (or the hats, which seem to mean a lot to him for some reason), but it would have been a more effective message if Toews hadn’t seemed deathly afraid to even make eye contact with the Campbell.

If the Flyers want to get involved in some gamesmanship, they might consider taping a photo of the Campbell Trophy to Michael Leighton’s chest. That’ll be sure to keep Chicago away from him.