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Blue Jackets send diplomatic envoy to hold Carter’s hand (Update)

(UPDATE: Carter speaks! Check the end of the blog.)

There's no question Jeff Carter(notes) was crushed when GM Paul Holmgren told him that the Philadelphia Flyers had traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"He was short [with me]. He's normally a very quiet kid to begin with, but he was very upset," said Holmgren about his phone call to Carter.

Carter's agent, Rick Curran, claims his client's anger stems from having been "assured him that he should not be concerned" with being traded, having signed an 11-year, $58 million contract extension last November.

"I was in the room and I'm not sure I would word it that way," said Holmgren.

Whatever the case, Carter's gone silent since the deal, his simmering anger towards the Flyers evidently having prevented him or his representation from making even the most pithy, perfunctory acknowledgment to the Columbus fans that he's committed to winning or looking forward to the challenge or whatever other canned quote you want to toss out there.

From Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:

It's hard for me to fathom that his agent, Rick Curran, hasn't produced some sort of press release including Carter quotes. You know, something along the lines of "I'm very excited for a new opportunity, and I can't wait to get settled in Columbus."

Trust me, agents have been cranking out "quotes" like this for many years now.

I've spoken to five agents about this situation. They can't believe it. One said: "He's got to turn off his emotions for 10 minutes and make a phone call."

Or perhaps he'll just wait until the Blue Jackets send a diplomatic envoy to his house in order to help him locate his smile. Which they've apparently done.

According to Portzline:

Multiple sources from around the NHL have confirmed today that a Blue Jackets contingent, led by GM Scott Howson, is traveling to meet with newly-acquired center Jeff Carter today.

One source indicated that majority owner John P. McConnell and captain Rick Nash(notes) are with Howson, that they were traveling to Philadelphia. Neither Howson nor Nash immediately responded to text messages from The Dispatch seeking comment.  Another source said that Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger(notes) plans to meet the contingent and Carter in Philadelphia.

(Can't believe the Blue Jackets didn't include Boomer the Cannon on that travel list. You know, to show how excited the team is to get him.)

Please keep in mind that Jeff Carter is a 26-year-old professional athlete. This is different than, say, being a child who just discovered he or she has to live with their second-favorite parent after a messy divorce.

Some might say: "But what if you were traded from your job to a place that's 10 times worse, huh?! Wouldn't you feel the same way?!"

What a stupid hypothetical. Here's a clue: Jeff Carter had to know that despite his hefty contract — with the extremely desirable cap hit — the Flyers needed to cut payroll in order to bring in the high-priced goaltender that the Boss of Bosses wanted to bring in. His no-trade clause hadn't kicked in yet. He was vulnerable and, worse yet, a redundancy in the Flyers' lineup thanks to their strength at center.

Yes, it sucks he was that cap casualty, but cowboy-up and accept that it's a business, and start acting in good faith with your new customers.

From Bob Hunter of the Dispatch:

Carter could help reverse the trend by simply doing what most traded players do in these situations - act like a grown-up. It's easy to understand why he is ticked at the Flyers; he signed an 11-year contract with the team because he wanted to be in Philadelphia, and had been told that the trade rumors were only that: rumors. But Carter's petulance is undermining Howson's efforts to improve the team that he is going to play for and if he doesn't at least act like he wants to be here, Carter might even doom it to more losing.

Early in the franchise's history, Columbus was actually a destination for some players. Many saw a bright hockey future in a clean, livable city with an underrated night life and a great family atmosphere. The city hasn't changed, but poor draft picks, bad decisions and a history of losing have made the franchise harder and harder to sell.

The Carter deal should help the team tremendously, but it only added to the team's perception problem. As unfair as it must seem to Howson, he is back at the plate with the game on the line again.

From Light the Lamp, a Blue Jackets blog:

He's got to understand that this is a critical time for the Jackets --- Howson wants to get he, Nash, Umberger and the boys even more help.  His public buy in will only help Howson get that help.  The longer he waits to speak the longer the negative speculation continues and the snowball gets bigger.

It's time to man up.  I know it sucks but as cliche as it is -- it's pro sports.  It's part of the biz.  The chances of any player spending their career with one team these days are remote.  Even with a NTC.

We here in Columbus are excited as hell to have ya - give it a chance.

You know, Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers has taken some heat for calling the Brian Campbell(notes) trade an important symbolic move for the franchise, given that he had to waive his no-trade clause to make the move happen.

But Tallon didn't need to take a group of Panthers owners and players to his house to convince him to leave Chicago. They spoke on the phone, the sales pitch worked, and now the Panthers have an elite talent they can use to hook other talents this summer.

This Carter situation is much more reminiscent of when the Edmonton Oilers made their sad little pitch to Dany Heatley(notes), trying to convince a player that (a) demanded out of Ottawa and (b) had limited options that their destination was the best one for him. The only difference is that the Blue Jackets didn't send Carter an "infotainment package" yet; one assumes it would include a DVD of female Ohio State students walking to class in lingering slow-motion.

Look, it's all going to work out. He'll eventually come to Columbus, blame all the bad feelings on the Flyers and say the right things. And on the ice, it's going to be exciting to see if a sniper at center can mesh well with Rick Nash on the wing.

But for now, even if his crushing disappointment and resentment of Holmgren is at its core, Carter's demeanor here makes Columbus seem like the last place on Earth he'd want to play. They've already had countless free agents and Guy Boucher refuse to join the franchise; they don't need Jeff Carter acting like he's going to spend the next 11 years in Hockey Mogadishu.

• • •

UPDATE: Jeff Carter breaks his silence, via Puck-rakers:

"It's been a tough couple of days," Carter said. "I spent six years in Philadelphia. I think so highly of the organization. It was a real shot to me.

"My decision to not talk had absolutely nothing to do with being traded to Columbus. I know it's a team that has struggled in the past, but there's a great future there, a lot of young players. I'm excited to be there."

And on the Blue Jackets flying out to meet him:

"It was great. I really appreciate them making the trip down here to come see me," Carter said. "It shows a lot on their part, that they're excited to have me. We talked for a while about the team, their direction. We talked about the city.

"Just sitting down and talking with them, it got me real excited, and wishing the season would start a little earlier."

So there you go. Pithy quotes, four days later than they should have arrived. More from the Associated Press here.

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