(Editorial note: We've got something a little different for you this morning - a piece created by friend of the blog and Columbus native Rick Gethin, formerly the editor of The Hockey Writers. Rick has been doing a lot of work chasing down this story, and we're honored to give him a place to write. I'll get out of the way and let him speak!)
To say this season for the Columbus Blue Jackets has been a huge disappointment, would be the understatement of the year. From the off-season acquisitions of Jeff Carter, James Wisniewski, etc. to the suspension and injuries that have plagued this club, they haven't been able to "catch a break" up to and including head coach Scott Arniel losing his job midway through the season. Murphy's Law is alive and well and most definitely residing in Columbus. It is what it is, at this point.
This story has its' genesis on June 23rd, 2011, but the final chapter has yet to be written. On that day, The Columbus Blue Jackets traded Jakub Voracek, a 1st rd and a 3rd rd pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft to the Philadelphia Flyers for Center Jeff Carter. He had signed an 11 year, $58 million contract extension with the Flyers that included a No Trade Clause that began in 2012. To say this was a shock to Carter would be like discovering the moon is made of cheese. The way he dealt with it is well documented.
As this disastrous season wore on for the Blue Jackets, the rumors of Jeff Carter's discontent ran rampant. Both "emerging media" and traditional media were rife with stories of Carter not wanting to be in Columbus. Both Carter and the Blue Jackets issued the usual rebuttals to this, although they seemed to ring hollow.
Independent sources have confirmed that there have been inquiries about a Carter trade, but they cooled to the notion of a trade when his unhappiness/attitude with Columbus were confirmed to the interested teams. While this doesn't preclude a trade from happening, there is absolutely no way for Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson to come close to getting in return for Carter, what Philadelphia got when they traded Carter away. He knows this, and at this point, has to be willing to take almost anything in return for clearing Carter from the team. Jeff Carter is making Adam Foote, and his notorious trade demand, look like a choir boy at Sunday Mass.
Is Carter as "toxic" as we are led to believe? Jeff Carter's agent, Rick Curran, reiterated to me Monday evening that Carter's "initial reluctance was being traded from Philadelphia". He went on to state that "he's tried to give his best effort while in Columbus. His main concern is to get healthy and get back in the lineup as soon as possible to help this team. He shares the same frustrations with the team about the way this season has unfolded." He concluded by saying that Carter "has not made a trade request" to the Columbus organization. Jeff Carter did make the trip with the club for the west coast swing Monday, although it's not clear if he will play.
There are many questions still left unanswered. Did Jeff Carter transfer his unhappiness with Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren for trading him to Columbus? Has he crossed the line into being insubordinate? Is his "shoulder injury" as bad as it seems? Will he be in the lineup solely to "showcase" him? The adage "actions speak louder than words" holds true. While he has said all the "right" words, his actions paint a different story.
There is more to this story that will see the light of day in the next few weeks, rest assured.