Justin Williams and Rod Brind'Amour missed out on being Flyers teammates by one season.
Then they won a Stanley Cup (2006) together and were teammates in Carolina from 2004-09.
Now Williams and Brind'Amour are together again … well, they were reunited last summer, when Williams signed with the Hurricanes and Brind'Amour was an assistant coach.
But this season, it's different. Brind'Amour finally received his opportunity to be an NHL head coach when Carolina hired him as its replacement for Bill Peters on May 8.
Williams was back in the Philadelphia area this weekend, playing in the annual Checking For Charity tournament at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.
On Saturday, Williams discussed his relationship with his former teammate and current head coach. Per NHL.com's Adam Kimelman:
"We have a good relationship. We'll continue to have a good relationship. I've talked with Rod quite a bit over the summer. He'll bounce some things off me and maybe I can be his ears (in the locker room) and help out as best I can.
"He's excited for the opportunity. We want to do right by him and we want to do right by the management team that's kept us here and really become a relevant team again."
Let's take a look back at both Brind'Amour's and Williams' departures from the Flyers.
• The Flyers traded Brind'Amour, a fan favorite — certainly one of the reasons why I gravitated toward the sport — to the Hurricanes 12 days into the 1999-2000 season.
In return, the Flyers received Keith Primeau, who also turned into a favorite here. But Brind'Amour became a franchise legend for Carolina. He's now the team's sixth head coach.
Brind'Amour's departure was sort of a sticky situation as it had been rumored for weeks leading up to the actual trade and when it finally happened, No. 17 was devastated.
“Yeah, took a long time to get over it,” Brind’Amour said in summer 2015. “To be honest, it still kinda hurts for me to remember that day. The Flyers meant a lot to me. Everything about the organization and fans, it was a tough place to leave."
There was a storybook ending, though, as the Flyers inducted him into the team's Hall of Fame on Nov. 23, 2015 (see story).
• The Williams trade is often remembered as one of the worst in franchise history, and understandably so. On Jan. 20, 2004, the Flyers traded Williams to the Hurricanes for defenseman Danny Markov.
Some context. The Flyers were deep up front and desperately needed defensive help, so they traded for Markov and acquired Vladimir Malakhov from the Rangers.
The Flyers' playoff run in 2004 ended in heartbreak, falling to the Lightning in seven games. That team was loaded and probably would have won the Stanley Cup had it beat the Bolts.
Markov was a useful player for the Flyers during their run, eating meaningful minutes. But the trade ended up being a major loss for the Flyers.
Williams went on to score 30-plus goals twice, hit the 20-goal mark six times and win three Stanley Cups — one with the Hurricanes and two with the Kings.
He also established himself as Mr. Game 7. He's played in eight career Game 7s and won seven, but more impressively, he holds the NHL record for most points in Game 7s with 14 and is tied with Glenn Anderson for the most Game 7 goals — seven.
Carolina has not made the playoffs since 2008-09 and Williams expressed interest both last summer and Saturday in helping the Hurricanes return to respectability.
The Hurricanes are in the midst of major changes, but they should interest Flyers fans as a divisional opponent with two big connections to the team.
But for the Flyers, the Hurricanes have not given them trouble much trouble of late.
Since the 'Canes were realigned to the Metropolitan Division in 2013-14, the Flyers have gone 10-8-3 — really, 10-11 but hockey rewards overtime losers — against them but have dominated them in recent years. In the past three seasons, the Flyers have gone 9-3-0 against Carolina.