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

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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?

Well…

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.