He has been there for just 8 games.
But does Jeff Carter want out of Columbus?
The hot rumor circulating throughout the NHL is that Carter has asked the Blue Jackets, who are in the midst of the worst start in team history, for a trade.
Renaud Lavoie, a respected French Canadian journalist from RDS, said he spoke to Carter’s agent, Philadelphia-based Rick Curran, who denied the report.
Here is a rough translation Lavoie’s report:
“By the American Thanksgiving (a week), several general managers will try to trade to improve their team. A name that is currently circulating is that of Jeff Carter.
Not that the Blue Jackets want to trade him, but because he is asking a trade.
Many GMs are aware of this fact.
But when I contacted the agent for Jeff Carter, Rick Curran, the latter told me that his client did not request a trade, contrary to rumors.”
How bad are things in Columbus?
Carter is still looking for his first goal in a Blue Jackets uniform. He missed 10 games - including a rematch here in Philly on Nov. 5 in which the Flyers whacked Columbus, 9-2 - but has collected just 3 assists in 8 games played. He returned to the lineup on Nov. 12 after missing nearly a full month.
There are only 5 teams in the NHL who have not won at least 3 times on the road this season. Columbus has just 3 wins total. They are 0-7-1 on the road after Thursday’s 2-1 shootout loss in Boston.
With that, they have all but eliminated themselves from the super tight playoff race in the Western Conference, though it is only the middle of November. Columbus is already 13 points back of 8th place.
The Blue Jackets have not made any big moves to try and shake things up. There have been no major trades, other than acquiring Mark Letestu from Pittsburgh. Coach Scott Arniel and GM Scott Howson still have their jobs.
In fact, former coach Ken Hitchcock - who was still under contract with the Blue Jackets this season - was hired in St. Louis on Nov. 6. Under Hitchcock, the Blues (4-0-1) have amassed as more points in 12 nights (9) than the Blue Jackets have all season (8).
Still, we have a hard time believing that the Blue Jackets have any interest in dealing Carter, even if he did request a deal.
Carter was one of their marquee offseason acquisitions, brought in to be the centerpiece on a line with Rick Nash. They haven’t yet had enough time to create any chemistry.
Besides, there were reports in the Columbus Dispatch that Carter and Nash - who are just a year apart - have become close friends and attended Ohio State football games together.
Then again, it’s not hard to imagine that it has been a miserable ride in Columbus for Carter, who was clearly not expecting to get dealt last summer. Not after signing an 11-year deal with the Flyers a few months earlier. Not after reportedly being told by general manager Paul Holmgren that he would not be traded in a face-to-face meeting.
After being sent from a perennial contender to a franchise in the middle of Ohio with a tepid fan-base that has seen the playoffs just once in 11 seasons, it is more or less a culture shock.
If you recall, it took Columbus sending Arniel and Howson to Carter’s shore house in Sea Isle City, N.J., a full 4 days after the trade before he would publicly address the trade. Carter said that he felt “betrayed” and “angered.”
Knowing Carter, it is hard to believe that he wouldn’t be willing to stick it out a bit longer to see how things play out.
At the very least, there would not be any shortage of interested general managers if Carter did indeed request a trade. Consistent 35-goal scorers with long-term, manageable salary cap hits don’t exactly grow on trees.
We’ll keep you posted.
REALIGNMENT TALK: One interesting bit of news regarding the upcoming vote on realignment by the NHL’s Board of Governors in the playoff format.
According to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman, who has been at the forefront of the realignment news, one of the topics is a playoff system that would feature the first two rounds of intra-division play. Once the division “winners” are determined, then the remaining 4 teams would be re-seeded regardless of conference.
That would allow, say, teams like the Flyers and Penguins to play each other in the Stanley Cup Finals if they were indeed to play in different divisions next season. It would also mean that teams from the East and West could square off one round earlier than usual.
What do you think?
BRING A JACKET: After topping Phoenix on Thursday night, the Flyers boarded their charter jet. Destination: Winnipeg, Manitoba - also known as the coldest city in the world with a population of more than 600,000 people.
The Flyers arrived at 1:31 am CST (2:31 am EST) and were scheduled for an afternoon practice at the MTS Centre.
The high daytime temperature in Winnipeg on Saturday is a balmy 16 degrees Fahrenheit. The puck drops in the prairie town at 3 o’clock.
It is the Flyers’ first trip to Winnipeg since March 22, 1996.
The Jets walloped Washington, 4-1, on Thursday night, as they notched their first back-to-back home wins since moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta last summer.
“A lot of my friends and family are excited to get back to Winnipeg,” said Chris Pronger, who is one of just two Flyers to have played in the old Winnipeg Arena. For Pronger, a 4-hour drive to Winnipeg from his hometown of Dryden, Ontario, made it easily his closest NHL city. “I know the fans are real excited to have a team back. You’ve seen the sold out crowds. They’ve gotten off to a rough start but they’re playing better of late. We’ve got to be focused and prepared. It should be a good game. It will be a lot of fun.”
“Honestly, I think I have, but I don’t even know what it is. You’d know if I was starting a riot out there.”
-Forward Zac Rinaldo, who was given a 10-minute misconduct for “inciting,” was asked whether he had ever been called for the penalty before.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers