|The Gatsby of Hockey. Jeff Carter in 2011. Could be the best|
player in the game. Not interested in trying to be that.
It's a risky business booing Jeff Carter. It is one of the few things on this earth that seems to get his attention. We saw that tonight, as he was greeted with a warm round of boos every time he touched the puck, and proceeded to have a goal and an assist on the Kings first three scores. Darryl Sutter kept throwing him out there, because for once in his coaching career he had an engaged Jeff Carter. Sutter is too smart to waste that opportunity.
I have a good friend from North Bay, who doesn't understand the booing, and thinks it bush league. Well, yeah, he's right. As a fan base, we are pretty much in the unruly teen years (15). So we are going to do things like that. I can live with that. In fact I embrace it. This fan base will continue to boo Jeff Carter because he represents every thing we loathe. First of all, he rejected us as a fan base. Howson made the decision to bring him here, even though Carter didn't want it, the first domino in a disastrous set of moves that set the franchise back 5 years. Carter never wanted to be here, and never really tried to even put the happy face on it. As a group, the CBJ fans don't deal with rejection well. Tonight was clear cut evidence of that.
The other reason that CBJ fans boo Jeff Carter, is because he has the talent to be the best player in the league. I'm not a big fan of Sidney Crosby by any stretch, but at least he works. Carter is handicapped by a silky smooth, effortless skating stride, that allows him to go really fast without appearing to try. He has sublime hands, and great ice vision. And he only uses these assets to get by with the least amount of effort possible.
Jeff Carter could be the best player in the game today, if he chose to be. He doesn't choose to be. And for that choice, CBJ fans will continue to disdain him, and boo him regardless of the cost.
The defending Stanley Cup champs looked the part tonight. The pretending CBJ also looked the part tonight, being thoroughly outclassed, in many instances, except for those few ill-advised efforts to pick a fight with Boll. All that considered, the CBJ still made them sweat a bit down the stretch, and the end of the game was entertaining.
Once when he played for the CBJ, Jeff Carter got a hat trick on the road in the first period against the Predators. They won that game late, and they said in post game that they knew Carter wouldn't score again. He did his gig, then quit trying. Tonight's game was a bit like that. He got booed, got an assist and a goal, and was done for the evening. He didn't need to do any more. He played a lot, and the CBJ struggled to contain him. That's who he is. And he schooled Joey and Wennberg on a couple of face offs for sure. But those two will remember it, and learn from it, and it was Stoll taking those defensive zone face offs late in the game when the goal tender was pulled, even though Carter was on the ice.
The better team won tonight. These Kings are still a really good team. I think they will pull it together to make the playoffs. But what then? Does Carter wait till its too late to start trying? It should be entertaining to watch.
Jeff Carter could be the best player in the NHL. He chooses not to be. So we boo him, and to hell with the consequences. And that's the way it should be.