Friday, March 9, 2012

On Jeff Carter

Last night's 5 Thoughts have brought the knives out (Isn't "Anonymous" commenting grand?), so permit me to expand on my somewhat controversial "Thought 3b." - the one taking fans in attendance to task for booing Jeff Carter.

First, let's get this out on the table.  I have prided myself in my Twitter and blogging presence for not attacking my fellow Blue Jackets fan.  In fact, I (very) often bite my tongue, shake my head and/or step aside from the online world when others attack those whose worldviews do not agree with theirs.  But it's been a long and frustrating season, and I slipped last night.

For that - and to those who don't appreciate the comparison to our friends to the southeast - I apologize.  And I suppose I should apologize for any slight perceived by our friends to the southeast.

Will I retract what is out there?  No.  What's the use?  It's my opinion, one that now has been stated in the public dialogue.  And I stand behind the substance of the opinion.  So I guess we all have to suck it up and deal with the fact that there is no unanimity in a world full of nearly 7 billion people that are capable of processing information and drawing conclusions independently of each other.  We've all got to find a way to respect opinions, even those with which we don't agree.  And "all" includes me.

With that out of the way, let's get to the crux of the matter: Jeff Carter.
As I said last night, I have no inside scoop on Jeff Carter's association with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  I also believe that very, very few people have an inside scoop, either.  It seems that those who do have the real story are not talking.  So we're left to speculation.

I've read plenty of attacks, civil and otherwise, on Carter, since his trade to Los Angeles.  Some have been leveled by those who would be likely to be in the know.  Many have been leveled by those who are just as informed as I am.

I've also seen his actual comments, such as his first media availability in Los Angeles where he directly answers questions about his perspective on his time in Columbus:

The folks at Columbus channel 10 also posted a video (no longer available, sadly) where they caught Carter in the Nationwide Arena parking garage immediately following his trade, and he largely said the same substance as is presented above.  I even recall thinking that he was very diplomatic at the time.  Carter expressed appreciation for the fans and the community, using much of the same language about how his time in Columbus didn't work out.

My point is, I don't know what happened.  So to that end, allow me to play devil's advocate and construct a hypothetical scenario that presents Carter as a sympathetic character in this soap opera that is the 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets:

Jeff Carter is informed that he has been traded to the Blue Jackets after signing what he thought would be the last contract of his career with the Philadelphia Flyers.  He feels betrayed and, rather than say something rash, retreats back to his Jersey Shore beach house to reflect.     

Blue Jackets management, eager to bring their new star player into the fold and perhaps diminish a really curious public relations problem at the same time, fly out with captain Rick Nash to Jersey and "sell" Carter on the merits of the Blue Jackets.  Carter is sold and shows up at camp, ready to go (while still not entirely over the life-shattering trade).   
Remember this promo photo from the beginning of the season?
Upon getting acclimated with the team, he discovers that he Blue Jackets are not as advertised.  It could be any of a number of reasons (culture, coaching, personalities, etc.), but I suppose that's not important.  The crux of the matter is, he realizes that he was traded from what he feels was a competitive, winning culture to one that doesn't measure up in his estimation. 
So Carter speaks out.  Perhaps his comments and his approach are politic, perhaps not.  He does what he thinks he has to do as an alternate captain to start moving the team in what he believes is the right direction.  His words/approach are not well-received.  He is ostracized.    
Frustrated at his situation - surely compounded by his two injuries sustained this season - Carter retreats back to his original opinion of the trade.  He (or perhaps his agent) shares his frustration with management.  Perhaps a trade is requested, perhaps not.  Or maybe Carter says nothing and his teammates complain about him to management.  But faced with the perception of a divided locker room (and that it largely is divided on a Carter v. most everyone else axis), however, management decides that the best/easiest thing to do is move Carter.  So he's traded to the Kings.
I'm not saying that this is an accurate portrayal of events.  It's simply a scenario built upon the facts that we know: 1) He was traded from Philly, 2) He retreated to the beach house, 3) He was visited by CBJ brass (and Nash), 4) He was made alternate captain, 5) He was injured at two points in time, 6) He was traded before the trade deadline.  But as best I know - and I readily admit I have no inside knowledge - this scenario is just as reasonable as those suggesting Carter was a cancer in the locker room, that he never wanted to be in Columbus, etc.

If that's the case, why boo Carter?  What's gained, besides spewing some venom over Carter's theoretical (but, to the best of my knowledge, unproven) role in the lost Blue Jackets season?

Lastly, as Inquiring Minds so wisely reminds us, it took Jeff Carter to bring Jack Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets. It's early, but the Johnson acquisition has worked out pretty well, don't you think?

So why aren't fans cheering, "Thank you, Jeff!"  Just a thought.

Next up, I'll get to Rick Nash.

If anyone can present to me a credible report that rebukes my fictional creation, please direct me to it and - if appropriate - I'll gladly walk this whole post back.


  1. This has typically been my take on things. Very few of us have any clue what takes place "in the room." All the rest of us have is conjecture and speculation. All I know, aside from the facts that you stated above, is that Carter was second in goals this year for CBJ while only playing in 39 games. He had as many hat tricks in said 39 games as he had in his entire career up to that point. Say what you will about his perceived attitude on the ice, but that seems to me to be what we acquired him for - goals.

    I don't know whether he was locker room cancer, or whether he just wanted to show up and play and keep his head down. But what seems obvious is that this last trade worked out very well for all involved. Carter got out (and into a bigger market with Mr. Mike Richards) and we got a great blueliner who actually wants to be here (and a pick). Why the hate? Everyone should be happy.

    On an unrelated note, the thing about not knowing what happens in the room can also be said to the Nash haters who want to strip the C. The team seems to think he deserves it, and they should be the ones to know. Jussayin'.

  2. And of course, yours truly posted THIS right here earlier this I've said, all the puzzle pieces don't make I agree, we'll never know for sure :)

    1. Good point, Alison - and very good post on your part. Apologies for missing that in my post.

  3. let me be the first to anonymously say, you are a moron and this only makes it worse.

    Remember when Vermette got traded? Every Blue Jacket that had a twitter account seemed to post about what a great guy he was and how much they'll miss him. Haven't heard a single positive comment about Carter from anyone in the room, and Todd Richards basically took shots at Carter last night in his press conference when praised Johnson

  4. Trust me, Carter is a d**k and Columbus is better for him being gone. Stop apologizing for fan reaction that is honest.

  5. I think that a lot of the hatred of Carter is mostly an inferiority complex the fans of this team have. Myself included. They feel that the rest of the league doesn't respect them. They are constantly losing, not getting calls, not getting the free agents, and are made fun of in the press outside of Ohio. Read any other blogs or large city newspapers and most of the comments are "Why do they even have a team?, They should move to Quebec., Columbus has a NHL team?, Why would anyone want to play there?, Nash is wasting away in that backwater town." Columbus residents are constantly fighting the cowtown image so when a player says he loves it here, we love him. He understands. When a player from a big market disses us, he's an a**hole. I know the frustration firsthand of explaining to someone from Canada or LA or Boston that, no really, the arena is awesome, the fans are good, and how close we are to getting in the playoffs. Usually, they just chuckle and give me the "sigh... poor, ignorant hick" look. I think the hatred of Carter is because he represents that snotty condescending attitude of the team that fans feel from the rest of the league.

  6. I agree that we will likely never know what happened with Carter in the locker room. However, it is also true that we currently don't know what happened between Nash and management that lead to the trade deadline drama. Therefore, I find it pretty hypocritical to absolve Carter of blame based on the lack of evidence while dragging Nash's name through the mud with your repeated labeling of 'mutinous'.

    I've tried to ignore your Nash comments since I raised my concern with your initial proposal that he be sent home (which even 2 weeks later I don't see how any rational person could see as an appropriate approach), but it's getting tiresome reading your blog now. Calling a Captain in the NHL mutinous is a much bigger insult to a player than being booed in an opposing rink, particularly when the evidence presented for the slander is pretty weak.

    1. I appreciate your perspective, but I don't necessarily agree with it.

      First, Carter. I'm not absolving him of anything. I'm just not condemning him. I'm suggesting in this post that, based off the facts that we know, a case to absolve him of blame is possible to construct. That's my point - that we don't know.

      (I readily admit my bias on Carter, however. Go back and look at the game recaps over the last couple of months. On at least two occasions that immediately come to mind, I suggest that I think that keeping Carter with a $5MM cap hit is a wiser trade deadline move than keeping Nash with a $7.8MM cap hit. So that's that.)

      Now to Nash (which I've been working on a full post to discuss at length, but you were kind enough to "sign" your comment so I'll give you a response): As a fan of the team, I was deeply insulted to see my favorite NHL team's captain stand up in the team's press conference room and, after applying significant amounts of sugar coating, say with a straight face that he didn't want to be here any more. This, AFTER the trade deadline, meaning that the team was forced to keep him on the payroll at least through the end of the regular season.

      I take the suggestion of "slander" seriously, so let me explain my use of "mutinous". Mutinous is defined by Merriam-Webster as "being in the state of mutiny," or "rebellious." Mutiny is defined as "forcible or passive resistance to a lawful authority." Nash is under contract to the Blue Jackets, which (for the purposes of this discussion) makes the Blue Jackets the authority figure. The evidence I use to suggest that Nash is mutinous is his public comments in his post-trade deadline press conference, where he says, "I think the biggest thing is when management said they were going to make a rebuild and a reshape, I thought the best thing for the team and for the organization would be to get assets for me, and I thought it would be best for my career." Stripping away the veneer, Nash is saying that he understands that the team is rebuilding, and he doesn't want to be a part of it. Had he not referred to his career, I'd say he was being selfless (if not a little crazy). He did refer to his career, however, injecting an element of selfishness into the dialogue...suggesting that he doesn't want to be here. And if you go look at the transcript, this wasn't a one-time slip of the tongue. He said it three times by my count. This was deliberate. For a man who's under contract for six more years, that's mutinous in my book. (Now, if you can find a better word to convey the same meaning, I'll gladly consider using it.)

      As for this whole thing being tiresome, I agree: It is tiresome. You tire of my regular reminders that Nash is still around. I tire of his being around when he has made it clear that he doesn't want to be.

      Perhaps we can agree that the end of the season can't come soon enough. After the disaster of 2011-12, we all could use a fresh start.

  7. While I appreciate your reply, mutiny to me implies that Nash is actively organizing his crew (teammates) to openly oppose, change or overthrow an authority (coach or management). I don't see that is what has occurred, and I stand by my comment that 'mutinous' has been too strong of a charge to repeatedly fling out there without evidence to support it. While it is hard to uncover what is actually happening in the locker room, I see less evidence of division in the room since Carter left.

    If management told Nash they were opting for the nuclear option, I don't blame him one bit for realizing that it is best BOTH for him and the team that he moved on. I would gladly bet that if management told him that was the case, they were not expecting him to be around for the rebuild even if they didn't have the stones to be the ones to ask him about waiving his NTC.

    I guess I can see many scenarios how Nash is not the villain in this situation. As has been said by someone on HfBoards, there may be no heroes here, but I'm not sure if there are really villains. With all Nash has given this organization, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt (much more than Carter has earned from me) until I hear proof otherwise that causes me to change my mind.


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