When >Anson Carter skates onto the ice for his first regular season game of 2006-07, he will do so with several familiar faces from last year joining him. The only difference is he won’t be wearing the same jersey that they are.
“It’s always interesting playing against a team you’ve played on before,” Carter said. “Whenever you put a jersey on, you take a lot of pride competing for that organization.”
Carter will don a crisp red, blue and white jersey with his new teammates, the Columbus Blue Jackets, as they open up at 7 p.m. this Friday at home against the Vancouver Canucks. He put together a career season for the Canucks last year, notching 33-22-55 with 41 PIM in 81 games.
The 33 goals marked a career high, as did his 15 power-play goals and seven game-winners. The Vancouver fans certainly appreciated his efforts as they voted him “Most Exciting Player.”
“I’m still really good friends with a lot of guys [in Vancouver],” Carter said about his old comrades, adding that competing against them might be, at first, a bit odd.
The powerful right wing has played against former teams before, though, and he will draw on those experiences to get past the strangeness, he said.
The Jackets signed Carter to a one-year contract on Sept. 13, giving them a proven veteran player who appears to be getting better every year. The signing came after a summer of uncertainly for Carter where he wasn’t sure where his next hockey home would be, as he and Vancouver reached an impasse in their contract negotiations.
“Unfortunately, there is an ugly side to this business, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “Right now my loyalty is with the Columbus Blue Jackets.”
The CBJ went 4-3-0 in the preseason, ending with two straight victories over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Carolina Hurricanes.
“We’re getting there,” Carter said of the CBJ’s progress toward opening night. “You’re starting to see the team take its shape and its form. You’re seeing the structure and systems in place that veterans and even rookie players need to have success on the ice.”
Carter wouldn’t say playing Vancouver adds any extra personal motivation. After all, he gives his best effort every game to win for the team he’s playing for, and he has already established himself in the Jackets organization as a classy professional.
“It’s hard to enough to play this game,” he said. “You have to just think about winning about losing. I think everyone who plays this game has a lot of pride and a lot of passion for it.”
“During the game, your No. 1 focus is doing what’s best for the team and making sure you come out with the ‘W’.”
But when the game’s over, Carter wouldn’t mind some gloating privileges.
After a victory over an old team, he said it’s common to “send some text messages over to your old buddies (in the locker room) next door, saying, ‘I got you this time. See you next time.’”
Here’s hoping that Carter has some typing on his cell phone to do after Friday’s game.
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