Thursday June 23, 2011—a date which will live in infamy—the Philadelphia Flyers suddenly and deliberately traded its Captain and leading goal-scorer to the Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets, respectively.
Maybe it was not quite as dramatic as Pearl Harbor, but the Flyers' off season was the most shocking in recent memory.
It saw team captain Mike Richards and assistant captain Jeff Carter, both drafted by Philadelphia in the first round of the 2003 draft were sent packing to different Western Conference teams.
Since then, Mike Richards was anointed the "next captain" of the Flyers. His workman-like playing style and lead by example mentality reminded the city and scouts of Bobby Clarke.
Richards lead the team in points in 2007-08, a season in which he was signed to a 12-year $69 million contract extension.
In 2008, the prophecy was realized when Mike Richards was named team captain. In 2009-10 Richards lead Philadelphia to the Stanley Cup Finals and was recognized as one of the best young leaders in hockey.
Carter experienced similar success in Philadelphia, scoring 181 goals in 461 games, including totals of 46, 33 and 36 over the past three seasons.
Less than a year ago Carter signed an 11-year $58 million contract extension to stay with the Flyers through the 2021-22 season.
Throughout their tenures in Philadelphia the two were tied together. Drafted in the same year, lived together, same position, same expectations.
There had always been talk of Richards, Carter and a few other hard-partying teammates shirking their perceived responsibilities as leaders and stars of a beloved Philadelphia institution.
But overall the team was producing, so the rumors were believed but pushed aside as exaggerations of an over zealous fan base.
Then came the collapse of 2011.
After fighting through the first half of the season in the race for the Presidents' Trophy the Flyers lost their substantial lead atop the Eastern Conference to the Washington Capitals and limped into the playoffs.
Then all hell broke out.
Richards, Carter, Ville Leino, Kris Versteeg, Brian Boucher, Sean O'Donnell, Dan Carcillo and Nikolai Zherdev were all gone, replaced by a bunch of youngsters and a Russian goalie.
Oh yeah, and Jaromir Jagr.
Hockey in Philly was turned upside down, seemingly in one day.
Since, the team talked about locker room chemistry being better than ever. Through the first two games of the season, it looks like trading Captain Morgan and his first mate weren't that crazy of moves after all.
But the season is just beginning. Saturday October 15 marks the first return of a once beloved son.
Richards comes back with the Los Angeles Kings. Next month Carter makes his first appearance since Rick Nash tracked him down on the Sea Isle boardwalk and took him to beautiful Columbus.
So now this feels like the perfect time to reflect on how the Flyers may end up regretting the two stars, despite early season success without them.