Carter's actions better speak louder than his words
Michael Rushton, NHL Contributing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It wasn't exactly King George VI addressing Britain at the start of World War II, but new Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jeff Carter finally broke his silence since his shocking trade out of Philadelphia.
It was nice of Carter not to wait until the start of the season to finally introduce himself to Columbus.
Not a word had been heard from the former Flyer publicly since last Thursday's trade. Was he upset that he was dealt from a playoff-contending club to a franchise that has yet to win a playoff game? Would he refuse to even play for the Blue Jackets?
Carter finally attempted some damage control in a conference call with Ohio media members on Monday, saying that who he was dealt to had no impact on his decision to stay silent. Like a professional wrestler looking for a cheap pop by catering to the home crowd, he also threw out a compliment to franchise face Rick Nash in his response.
"I know they're a team that has struggled in the past, but they have a bright future with a lot of young guys coming up and with Rick Nash, it can't be that bad, right? So, it obviously has nothing to do with Columbus," said Carter. "It was all about the way things were handled and whatnot in Philadelphia. (That) is what I was upset about."
While the 26-year-old Carter looks to get into the good graces of Buckeye nation, his silence puts him in an early hole. Instead of embracing a trade that makes him an instant cornerstone of the franchise, he gave off the image of a pouting child unhappy things didn't go the way he wanted.
What Jeff Carter needs to worry about is producing in Columbus.
Columbus needing to send general manager Scott Howson, head coach Scott Arniel and captain Rick Nash to New Jersey to finally get Carter to talk didn't exactly make him look like a Van Gogh piece either.
Carter, who had signed an 11-year deal worth $58 million with Philadelphia last November, went on to further explain his silence when asked if, given another chance, he would have reached out earlier, saying he wanted to gather his thoughts and avoid saying something he would later regret.
Maybe something like he didn't want to play with the Blue Jackets?
"No, I traded text messages with Scott (Howson) and my agent spoke with Scott and we told them that I was going to take the weekend to think things over," said Carter. "I think sometimes when you are caught off guard, you feel a little bit of anger and betrayal, and all the emotions that go with being traded. Sometimes it's a little better to sit back and kind of think about what you are going to say rather than get out there and say something you are going to regret down the road."
Perhaps Carter was just trying to avoid bashing a Flyers franchise that he said on Monday he still thinks very highly of. He did, though, show a slight sign of bitterness when asked about the possibility that the Flyers dealt him, along with best friend Mike Richards (who was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on the same day) to change the culture of the locker room.
"I haven't read or listened to any of that from Philly," said Carter. "I've moved on to Columbus here and I'm not worried about what is going on there."
What Carter does need to worry about is producing in Columbus. Blue Jackets fans are likely to be more forgiving than the demanding patrons of Philadelphia, but a failure to light the lamp early could turn the tide quickly on the former 40-goal scorer.
Now teamed with Nash, the Ontario-born former first-round pick also has his own version of the NBA's tandem of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to worry about: two guys who like to shoot that must now find a way to share their flatter version of the ball.
"I think it's something we're going to have to work at," Carter said. "I think that the both of us, all that we want is to win hockey games. I want to come there and I don't want to be done in April. We're both unselfish hockey players. We're both going to have to make a couple of sacrifices, but I think it will work out well.
"Obviously with what you said with us both being shooters, more scorers than playmakers, we'll see if we can find someone that's more of a disher and can find the holes and I think it will work out really well."
Perhaps Carter can offer his opinion of who he would like setting up his goals. According to capgeek.com, the Blue Jackets have over $21 million of cap space and only three restricted free agents -- all defensemen -- to worry about. Carter did at times play the wing in Philadelphia, but will likely stay at the pivot in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets lost one option in winger Jakub Voracek, who was dealt to the Flyers as part of the Carter trade after finishing tied for second on the club with 32 assists. R.J. Umberger also had 32 helpers, so perhaps he would move over to the wing. However, Umberger also finished second last year on Columbus with 25 goals and the club will need to spread out some of its scoring.
With Columbus unlikely to land free agent prize Brad Richards, other options on the market could include Michael Ryder, Antti Miettinen or Radim Vrbata.
No matter who the Blue Jackets decide to pair with Carter and Nash, Columbus' newest addition better find a way to create offense early or he may find himself stuttering to defend his game.