It’s been four days since the Columbus Blue Jackets completed their long-rumored deal for Jeff Carter. Four days since the entire fanbase in Columbus started dreaming about Carter and Rick Nash racking up the points at will. Four days since the team thought they had answered the #1 center question that had been haunting the team since its inception. It should be a joyous time for hockey fans in Ohio—but the trade hasn’t gone down as expected.
The cold fact of the matter is that it’s been four days since the trade and Jeff Carter as still not said a word to the media. There haven’t been any radio interviews, no phone conferences with reporters, and not even a simple press release. There has only been silence—and plenty of it.
The good news for Blue Jackets fans is that Carter’s frustration/anger/sadness is not directed at the Columbus organization. There are various reports that Carter had been assured by Flyers management that he wouldn’t be moved before his no-trade clause became effective in 2012. From the Columbus Dispatch’s Puck-Rakers blog:
“We’re told repeatedly that Carter’s anger is directed at the Flyers, that it has nothing to do with the fine city of Columbus and the likeable people therein. But the longer this goes, Blue Jackets fans can’t help but take this personally. To be born in Columbus is to carry a heavy inferiority complex. This certainly doesn’t help.”
Now Carter and his 11-year extension are in Columbus for the foreseeable future. While it’s understandable that Carter is upset from a personal standpoint, this is the ugly side of hockey that is a business. Carter obviously intended on finishing his career with the Flyers when he signed the long-term deal. Unfortunately for him, things haven’t worked out as he would have hoped. Moving for a job (which this is) is never easy and if he had assurances from the Flyers management, the deal is dubious at best. Regardless, it’s clear that Carter is taking the business side of hockey personally.
As has been pointed out, perhaps Carter’s anger will prove to help him in the long run. Never underestimate the talented athlete who thinks he’s been disrespected. Athletes in all sports can raise their level of play when they perform with a chip on their shoulder. That’s exactly what the folks over at the Blue Jackets’ blog Light The Lamp are hoping to see:
What I hope he will be doing shortly is turning his anger into motivation. What I hope he will be doing is circling Nov 5th on the Jackets schedule. What I hope he will be doing is realizing how important he will be to this team. What I hope he will be doing is talking to players who have actually lived in Columbus — I’ve never heard ONE complaint from a current or former player about this city.
Of course, the sooner Jeff Carter speaks to the public about the trade, the sooner all of this will go away. He and his agent can publish the usual, cliché filled press release and the team can turn their attention to acquiring free agents to play with Carter and Nash. But the organization will be left in a state of flux as Carter continues to draw this drama out. They could be out working on a deal with RJ Umberger using the line, “wouldn’t it be great to play with your old teammate?” Instead, Carter and his feelings about the trade are the last things management will want to bring up.
At some point, Carter will accept the deal and move on with his life. The Blue Jackets just hope its soon—they have plenty more deals to make if they want to be competitive next season.