Below is the e-mail I sent to ESPN Magazine explaining why Mike Richards and Jeff Carter should show off the goods in the Body Issue next year. Feel free to flood their inbox with it. Remember, this was your decision, I'm simply here to relay the message. Here's a link of where to send it!
Dear ESPN Magazine,
I am writing you this letter today, to inform you of a recent vote held on my site. I decided to poll the readers of my blog on who they would like to see grace the pages of your annual Body Issue. It seems that your choice of NHL players has led to quite the debate, and ultimately led to this vote taking place. I asked my readers to submit names of players they would like to see in your magazine, and I compiled them into a playoff style bracket. 16 very capable men were paired against each other, until only two remained. After the final votes had been submitted, the two remaining men were separated by less than one percent. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue, but considering who the two men were, it seemed only right to submit them together. Why, you might ask, must they be submitted as a duo rather than individuals? Well, I'm here to tell you of a magical bond that began long ago, in the year 2003...
This story begins, like all great stories do, in Nashville, Tennessee. On June 21st, 2003, the Philadelphia Flyers selected two young men in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft named Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. Little did they know, that they had set the wheels in motion for one of the most amazing stories ever told. When two fresh-faced young men put on those Flyers jerseys that day, they created a bond that would take them through the highest and lowest of times.
After the draft, Carter and Richards returned to their junior teams, but were reunited in 2004 for the World Junior Championships in Finland. They came up short, winning the silver, and yet again the two were separated. The agony of defeat was shorted-lived however, when only one year later the two teamed up again, this time claiming gold for their country. The two proved to be a formidable duo, and looked forward to continuing their journey together. The next season, both players played for the Philadelphia Phantoms in the playoffs, and helped them claim the Calder Cup. As their bond grew, so did their dominance on the ice. Everything they touched seemingly turned to gold. Their magical bond was evident to everyone, and it led them into the NHL the following season.
Once in the NHL, their bond only grew stronger. They flourished in Philadelphia, and quickly became the faces of the franchise. The City of Brotherly Love, was never so appropriately named, then when Carter and Richards were at the helm. As their success continued, so did their mesmerizing hold on the fans, the city, and to each other. In 2008, Richards was named captain of the Flyers, and to no ones surprise, Carter responded with an amazing breakout season. Both players broke the 80-point mark that year, and continued to trend the Flyers upwards. In 2010, the duo led their team on an amazing playoff run. However, Carter's unfortunate playoff injuries derailed the duo, and ultimately derailed the team. While Mike Richards still carried his team, without their magical bond, they were defeated in the Stanley Cup Final by the Blackhawks in six games.
Soon after the devastating loss in the Stanley Cup Final, Richards and Carter fell out of favor in Philadelphia. The media and fan pressure that had been building, erupted the following season. While both players were still considered the faces of the franchise, it was clear the team was looking for a fresh start. While allegations of trades swirled, both players, who had just signed long-term deals, were promised they would remain in Philadelphia. Those words proved to be lies however, and on June 23rd, 2011, their unbreakable bond was demolished in less than an hour. Both Carter and Richards were traded away to cities nearly 2,000 miles apart. For two men who had grown up together, won championships together, and had formed a magical love together, it was devastating. Their world collapsed around them, and each found one another in a place they hadn't in seven years...alone.
The 2011-2012 season began for both Carter and Richards in a strange way, on different teams. Richards, stripped of the captaincy from the team he loved, and asked to simply be just another player in Los Angeles. While Carter, was asked to step into a role of leadership on a team looking to finally break out of mediocrity in Columbus. Neither player was set in a role that was familiar to them, and worse yet, they had to go about their lives without the other. While Richards found early success, his season was derailed by an early season concussion. Carter had similar injury agony, and he never seemed to be committed to playing in Columbus. As the season progressed, the Columbus Blue Jackets fell out of the playoff race, and were looking to rebuild their team. While, in Los Angeles, the Kings were still in the hunt for the playoffs, but simply couldn't score. The Hockey Gods have a funny way of setting the universe straight, and on February 23rd, 2012, they did just that. Jeff Carter was traded from Columbus to Los Angeles, and just like that, the stars aligned once again. The inseparable duo was once again together, and they proved to be the spark to propel the Kings ahead.
After Carter's trade to Los Angeles, the Kings magically could score again. It seemed like everything began to fall into place for the team. They began the playoffs as the eighth seed, but made quick work of the President's Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks. A rejuvenated Mike Richards set the tone early, and amazing performances from captain Dustin Brown and goaltender Jonathan Quick, showed the rest of the world they weren't your typical eighth seed. As the playoffs rolled on, the Kings quickly went through of the St.Louis Blues, and Phoenix Coyotes. When the Stanley Cup Final started, Jeff Carter proved all the doubters wrong, and appropriately scored the Stanley Cup clinching goal. When it came time for Mike Richards to pass the Stanley Cup to a teammate, there was only one person in the world he could have passed it to, Jeff Carter. In a moment of pure love and admiration, they shared the ultimate joy with one another.
You see now why I simply can't separate them. The universe tried to keep these two apart, and simply could not. I have no where near the force and power of the universe, so I simply can't even begin to try and separate them. Their amazing connection has spanned the globe, from Nashville to Finland, and from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. There is no way to break them up. They are simply so much better together, then they ever will be apart. Their amazing story is one of love, dedication, and glory. Now it is time for you to write another chapter. The people have spoken, and they want to see this amazing love laid out in the pages of your magazine...naked. Yes, it is destiny that these two are never to be apart, and it's only appropriate that they shed their clothes together. So, ESPN Magazine, will you embrace the love of these two? Will you share their love with everyone? It would be a crime against the universe if you didn't.