The Philadelphia Flyers have made their second blockbuster trade of the day, sending captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday almost immediately after dealing Jeff Carter to Columbus.
The Flyers dealt Richards to L.A. for forwards Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, and a second-round pick in the 2012 draft.
Richards said he was shocked when he learned of the trade. He became emotional when he talked with Holmgren.
"It wasn't a long conversation," he said, "but it was one I didn't think I'd ever have to do."
Richards said he wanted to stay a Flyer the rest of his career and never would have signed that long-term deal had he known he would have been traded.
"We felt at this stage of the franchise it was time to make a significant move for an impact player," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said in a statement. "Mike Richards is not only one of the top players in the league, he's also universally recognized as one of the finer leaders in the game and one of its elite competitors.
"Additionally, given that he's only 26 years old and he's on a long-term contract, he fits our plan now and for the long-term future."
Earlier, the Flyers traded Carter to Columbus for forward Jake Voracek and first- and third-round picks in Friday's draft.
"Those are two hard phone calls to make," said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, his voice quivering and eyes misting over. "I think the world of both of them. That's difficult. That's the hard part of the job."
"The Columbus Blue Jackets are very pleased and excited to acquire Jeff Carter," added Columbus GM Scott Howson. "Jeff is a proven No. 1 centre in the National Hockey League and we look forward to him having many productive seasons as a Blue Jacket."
Flyers chairman, and founder, Ed Snider told The Associated Press the team is closer to winning a Stanley Cup now, rather than before the shakeup.
"Yes, I do," he said. "I like our goaltending, I like our defence, I like our forwards. We moved things around a little bit. I really think we're stronger."
Forwards James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux have instantly become new cornerstones for the Atlantic Division champions, who were surprisingly swept in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins.
"I think we have two good young players there that are on the verge of doing even better things for our team," Holmgren said. "So that certainly was a factor, particularly Claude. I view Claude as sort of Mike Richards-like in his competitiveness and his ability to do a lot of things for us offensively and defensively."
Giroux and van Riemsdyk combined for 13 points in the playoffs. Carter and Richards had seven, including just one goal.
Both moves provide the Flyers with significant salary-cap relief. Carter has 11 years remaining on a contract that counts more than $5.2 million US per season against the salary cap, while Richards has nine years left at an annual cap hit of $5.75 million.
With those obligations off their books, the Flyers would have more room to sign free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, whose negotiating rights they acquired from Phoenix last week.
Later Thursday, the Flyers announced they signed the franchise goalie to a multi-year contract. Canadian cable sports network TSN reported it was a nine-year deal worth $51 million US.
Thursday's trades leave Philadelphia without two of its top four scorers from last season. Carter and Richards tied for third-best on the team with 66 points apiece, with Carter notching a club-best 36 goals and Richards adding 23.