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Jeff Carter, Rick Nash still going down with the Columbus Titanic

Watching the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night was like watching the scrawny kid get up with the bases loaded and two outs in the final inning of a Little League game.

Curtis Sanford's(notes) outstanding goaltending — see, this phrase and "Blue Jackets" aren't mutually exclusive after all — kept them tied through regulation and overtime. In the shootout, you couldn't help but feel like, "C'mon, little buddy, you don't even have to swing … just walk with the bases loaded!"

Instead, the Blue Jackets grounded out to the pitcher.

Such is life for the 3-13-2 Jackets, whose eight points remain the lowest in professional hockey in the U.S. through 18 games. No, seriously: Check out the AHL and the ECHL standings — Columbus is the worst pro hockey team, based on their record, in the nation.

So it's natural that some players would have a desire to jump ship; however, you just wouldn't expect it to be a guy who joined the team in the summer and is signed through 2022.

Which is why the hockey world was buzzing about a Jeff Carter(notes) trade request last night.

There were rumblings about it during the day, and then RDS published a story title that translated as "Carter Wants To Leave Already Columbus." TSN's Bob McKenzie, in the same media familiar as RDS, tossed a little fuel on the fire later one:

For those asking about reports of Jeff Carter requesting trade out of CBJ, here's my understanding: There has been no formal request BUT Carter was devastated/miserable at being traded out of PHI and I don't imagine CBJ's poor start and his injury have improved mindset. My take: Carter needs to play and play well. CBJ, same thing. Then take stock of where they're at further down the road. But that's just me.

Well, GM Scott Howson had to finally address the rumblings, and did so with Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers this morning:

"There has been no trade request," Howson said.

Asked if Carter or his agent, Rick Curran, had even intimated that the player would welcome  a move, Howson said: "No. Not at all."

"Look, nobody's happy right now. Jeff's not happy. Rick (Nash) isn't happy. We've won three games. Nobody's happy. We see Jeff as part of the solution here. We want to get him integrated into the lineup and into the team. He's missed 10 games, and he's only now getting back into the lineup and playing. We gave up two very big assets for him."

Howson mentioned Rick Nash(notes), the team's captain, because the Liberate Rick Nash movement that has thrived since he was drafted by Columbus is surging again, and will continue to thrive so long as the Greater Toronto Area has newspapers, televised hockey programs and access to the Internet.

In fact, Howson had to go on the record with ESPN on Thursday to quell those rumors about Nash being traded, saying that he's never brought up his name in trade talks. From Pierre LeBrun:

For his part, Nash hasn't asked to get out, either.

"Rick has never asked for a trade, contrary to what has been reported," his agent Joe Resnick told ESPN.com on Thursday. "Rick is focused on trying to turn things around in Columbus and help the team get some wins."

So both are going down with the ship, but one can't help but wonder for how long.

The Carter thing smells of someone from his camp attempting to spark trade offers through the media. The Nash thing … well, the guy loves Columbus, has told us in the past he wants to make it work there, but how much losing can a player like Nash endure while his peers are all making the playoffs with regularity?

Even if, you know, his lack of leadership might be one of the reasons for their consistent shortcomings?

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