Jeff Carter

Jeff Carter not asking for a trade has become quite the story


Yesterday, we posted rumblings that Blue Jackets center Jeff Carter had asked to be shipped out of Columbus. Those rumblings included a report from RDS — a report that was quickly refuted by Carter’s agent, Rick Curran.

So end of story, right?

Not so fast.

Today, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson met with Carter in Nashville to discuss the RDS report. “Howson declined to detail the meeting,” Portzline tweeted. “Except to say that he and Carter are on the same page, that there has been no trade request.”

So end of story, right?


A GM meeting his player over what amounts to an Internet trade rumor is odd. It’s also odd that said GM would inform reporters of said meeting, mostly because of the “where’s there’s smoke there’s fire” adage.

It also didn’t help when TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted the following:

“For those asking about reports of Jeff Carter requesting trade out of CBJ, here’s my understanding: There has been no formal request BUT Carter was devastated/miserable at being traded out of PHI and I don’t imagine CBJ’s poor start and his injury have improved mindset.”

Here’s the thing with this situation (and similar rumblings about Rick Nash) — the rumors aren’t really about the players.

They’re about Howson and club president Mike Priest.

These rumors are direct shots across the bows of two men that have been stunningly inactive as their team continues to flounder. When you’re as bad (and inactive) as Columbus is, you give people lots of time to sit around and pick things apart.

One wonders what’s going on inside their heads. Howson deemed the current situation dire enough to post an emotional plea on the BJ’s website, yet not dire enough to make more significant acquisitions than Nikita Nikitin and Mark Letestu.

As for Priest, he’s shown a crazy amount of loyalty to the architect of a flawed roster. (NB: Prior to becoming team president, Priest was the CFO of JMAC Inc. — the company of BJ’s owner John P. McConnell. Not exactly a hockey background.)

Adding fuel to the fire is that St. Louis, one of Columbus’ Central Division rivals, fired head coach Davis Payne and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock. The Blues were in far less dire straits than the Jackets at the time, yet made the bold move and reaped immediate rewards.

Until Columbus does something noteworthy to fix the team, expect to keep hearing trade rumors around guys like Carter and Nash.

Even if they didn’t really ask out.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado