Just 13 days after he was traded from Columbus to the Kings, Jeff Carter returned, skating in the same rink that he called home for the first 4 1/2 months of the season. Carter’s brief stint with the Blue Jackets — he was traded from Philadelphia last June — didn’t really go well by any measure. Carter had 15 goals in 39 games, but the Blue Jackets, who started the season with high expectations, quickly sunk to the bottom of the Western Conference and never recovered. Throughout the season, there were whispers, of various intensity and validity, that Carter didn’t want to be in Columbus, whispers that Carter didn’t exactly deny today. Finally, exactly eight months after he was traded to Columbus, Carter moved again, to the Kings. He isn’t likely to get a warm welcome from the Blue Jackets faithful tomorrow night, but after today’s practice, Carter spoke at length about his return to the city and gave his thoughts about his time with the Blue Jackets…
Question: What is the feeling like, coming back here to play?
CARTER: “I only had a short time here, but there are great guys over there. They’re a good team, a team that kind of underachieved when I was here. They’ve started to play some pretty good hockey here, as of late. It’s going to be fun to get out there and play against them, but it’s going to be a tough game.’’
Question: Is it fair to say there will be a little extra motivation tomorrow night?
CARTER: “Obviously you want to go out and play good and beat your old team. I think above all that is, we’re in a pretty tight race here too. We need two points, for sure.’’
Question: What type of reaction do you think you will get from the fans?
CARTER: “[laughs] I don’t know. We’ll see what happens there. It’s going to be interesting.’’
Question: When you got traded, you were at a (Blue Jackets) fan even here. Was that awkward at all, the way that played out?
CARTER: “A little bit, I guess, near the end. I had my phone in my pocket and I could hear it vibrate and vibrate. I was sitting there playing video games with a bunch of kids, and I was like, `Jeez.’ Then I looked over my shoulder and someone was waiting behind me. I figured something that happened. A little awkward. I actually had a few people come up and ask me if I had gotten traded, because it was already on Twitter or something. You guys know before I do.’’
Question: Is everything working out well for you now, in terms of the move (to the Kings)?
CARTER: “I think so. It’s been a good go here so far. The team is playing well, and it’s a chance to play in the playoffs. I think that’s what every player wants, so it’s good.’’
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.’’
Question: Are you surprised to see them doing well of late here?
CARTER: “From day one, with the guys we had in that room, there were pretty high expectations. I think it was just a matter of time before they started to get rolling.’’
Question: What’s your take on the whole situation with Rick (Nash)? Is that awkward for a team?
CARTER: “I don’t really know what to say to that. I’m not going to say too much. It was definitely awkward, I guess, would be a pretty good word to describe it.’’