LOS ANGELES –
It was fewer than two years ago that Jeff Carter
and Mike Richards
could almost taste the Stanley Cup.
The pair helped the Philadelphia Flyers
reach Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. Never could either Richards or Carter ever have envisioned taking this circuitous route to being reunited in Los Angeles.
"We never probably thought this would happen again – especially this quick – but obviously we're both pleased with it," Carter said Saturday in his introductory media session before the Kings faced the Chicago Blackhawks
at the Staples Center. "I think myself coming in to this team -- I told Mike when he got traded here that, 'You got a heck of a team. You got a chance to win here.' So I'm excited to be a part of it."
Asked if he was treated fairly by the Philadelphia media, Carter said, "Obviously, it's a tough market to play in. The media's hard, but the media's hard in other cities, too. It is what it is."
It is believed that Carter didn't like being traded to Columbus from the start and sulked during his short stay there. It certainly didn't help that Carter had injuries that limited him to 39 games.
Remarkably, the 11-year, $58 million contract extension that Carter signed with Philadelphia in 2010 has now been moved twice. He told reporters Saturday that he did not request a trade out of Columbus.
"When we went in there, the team as a whole, we had some high expectations," Carter said of the Blue Jackets. "There was lot of buzz around the city. For whatever reason, it just didn't happen for us. We had lots of injuries and suspensions and we didn't have time to click. That's just the way it goes sometimes. When a team performs like that, they're going to make moves.
"It was obviously a tough year. I went in, felt pretty good in the preseason. Starting to kind of get acclimated to everything with a new team and I break my foot. I come back and start to get going again a little bit more and then I’m out with a shoulder injury. It was real up and down. I think since I've been back from the shoulder (injury), I've started to play some pretty good hockey, so hopefully it will carry over here."
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said in Thursday conference call that he didn't have any issues with Carter's character or past reputation.
"How many of us are in a position to throw stones?" Lombardi said. "We just never were celebrities enough, to where people wanted to take pictures of us. I do think that, given our culture with TMZ and things, I think stuff can get a little exaggerated. That said, I do think that athletes and professionals all go through a phase like we did in college.
"You've got to grow up and learn from it. They're no different from anybody else at a young age."
There is a getting-the-band-back-together feeling with Carter and Richards, who were to play on a line together in Carter’s L.A. debut.
"Obviously, we're both excited," Carter said. "We've become close friends. We enjoy playing together and look forward to getting it going again."
Richards joked that he had a spare room for Carter in his Manhattan Beach house, but Carter said he's in a hotel right now. The Kings have a brief two-game road trip starting Monday at Nashville.
"When we get back, we'll figure it out," Carter said.
Carter doesn't have to figure out that he was brought to L.A. for his scoring. The Kings entered Saturday's action with a League-low 129 goals.
"I'm excited," he said. "It's a new chapter in my career. It's a little bit of pressure on me to come in and help these guys out, but I'm looking forward to it."
Carter's teammates echoed the sentiment that, while they like Carter, they realize he isn't a cure-all for their offensive woes.
"It's going to take 20 guys," Anze Kopitar
said. "He's not just going to come in and swing his stick and everything is going to turn around. We want to make sure we have to work and just play hard."
That's not to say that Carter's big wrist shot from the wing and his closing ability won't be appreciated.
"Having him as that shooter threat – maybe it's going to ease a little tension off everybody else," Kopitar said. "Again, I think he's going to be a good asset for us."