Jeff Carter returns to Columbus on Thursday for the first time since his trade to the Los Angeles Kings. He's not sure what sort of reception he'll receive from Blue Jackets fans. But he doesn't believe those fans who claim he "never" wanted to be in Columbus are entirely correct.
Question: There's a segment of the (Columbus) fan base, as you know, that has the opinion that you never really wanted to be here? What would you say to people who think that?
CARTER: "I think that's tough to say. I don't know if that's completely true. Obviously when I got traded from Philly, it was hard on me, something that I didn't expect. Over time, you get over that. I came in here [Columbus] with an open mind. There were a lot of expectations around the team, from the fans and the city and stuff like that. For whatever reason, it didn't really work out that way, and things just started to snowball from there. When you're losing games, like we did, and giving up leads late, it's pretty tough on guys. It's hard to kind of keep going. It was a tough year.''
Question: Do you have a sense of why things didn't go well for the (Columbus) team this year?
CARTER: "It's tough to say. All the things that you pointed out there, it goes into it, with bringing news guys in, and injuries and suspensions, not having everybody play together. All that stuff is a big part. I wish I could tell you one thing. If I knew, this probably wouldn't be the situation.''
There's always been a wicked irony about Carter being at a fan event when he discovered he had been traded to the Kings.
Jackets fans were ready to embrace him when he arrived from the Philadelphia Flyers, giving the franchise one of the most dynamic offensive players in its history. But his reputation as a dressing room problem in Philly and his initial frustration over the trade made Columbus fans recoil, long before injuries and the team's lack of success soured them on him.
So how will he be received in Columbus? Considering the player and his time there, apathy would seem the appropriate response.