On Monday, June 27, Blue Jackets Executive Vice President and General Manager Scott Howson, Head Coach Scott Arniel and team captain Rick Nash flew to Sea Isle City, New Jersey to visit with center Jeff Carter, who was acquired by the club late last week in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The club conducted a conference call with the newest Blue Jacket and Central Ohio media members on Monday afternoon. Below is a transcript of the call:
QUESTION: Can you just talk about the excitement about the opportunity about coming to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
JEFF CARTER: I'm definitely excited. You know I've spent the past six years playing in Philadelphia and I had a great six years. Sometimes a new fresh start is always good. I just had the pleasure of meeting with Scott Howson, Scott Arniel and Rick Nash down at my place here. After talking with them it made me real excited. I think they have a good group of young players that are up and coming in the league, and the chance to get to play with a guy like Rick Nash is obviously exciting. (I’m) definitely looking forward to it and I can't wait to get things going.
Q: Thanks for doing this today. Can you describe what the last couple of days have been like for you and why it took you so long to say the words that you just said?
JC: It's been a tough couple of days. You know, like I said, I spent six years playing in Philly, but I have been with organization for awhile now. I think so highly of the organization that it was a real a shock to me. I know there were a lot of rumors going around, but I never really expected it to happen. Like I said, sometimes a fresh start and new faces are good for everybody. I can’t wait to get there and get things going and I’m super excited.
Q: Your agent said, and could you reiterate, that your disappointment and your silence the last four days was about you’re being upset that you were being moved from Philadelphia or did it not have anything to do with your destination, not wanting to come to a different conference, a different city or a team that hasn’t won practically…
JC: My decision not to talk the last couple of days had absolutely nothing to do with being traded to Columbus. I know they're a team that has struggled in the past, but they have a bright future with a lot of young guys coming up and with Rick Nash, it can't be that bad, right? So, it obviously has nothing to do with Columbus. It was all about the way things were handled and whatnot in Philadelphia. (That) is what I was upset about.
Q: Do you think that this is helpful that this is happening in the offseason? Obviously you are going through a tough period right now having to adjust, would it have been much tougher had this deal gone down at the trade deadline and you would have come and start at it blind?
JC: I definitely think it would have. I've had a couple of days here to get things settled and figure out what I am going to do in Columbus. I think it gives the coaches some time to figure out what they are going to do. I can sit down with them and see what my role is going to be and what they expect of me and all of that kind of stuff team-wise. Personally, it gives me some time to digest everything and move on and get settled in Columbus and get ready for the year.
Q: How helpful was today's visit in helping you maybe shift gears and look ahead?
JC: It was great. I was really appreciative of them making the trip to come down here to see me. That shows a lot on their part. Obviously they are real excited to have me. We just talked for awhile about the team and their direction, what their sights are on for the future, my role on the team and all that kind of stuff. We talked about the city for awhile. After talking with them it definitely got me real excited and I wish the season was starting a little earlier.
Q: And you've gotten good feedback from Nash in that visit?
JC: Yeah, definitely. I've known Nasher a little bit for a while here through All-Star Games and Olympic camps and he actually played in my hometown in juniors, so I know him a little bit and he's obviously a great guy, a world-class player. So, I'm definitely looking forward to being with him.
Q: We know you reached out and spoke a little bit with Rick, were you able to talk with (former Flyers teammate) R.J. (Umberger) or anyone else? Was it just a matter of taking a couple of days to compose yourself?
JC: On the day that I got traded, Thursday, I got a few calls from, well obviously Rick called me, R.J. called me and Antoine Vermette gave me a shout. I’ve actually been playing phone tag with R.J. the last day or so. I haven’t gotten a hold of him yet, but I’ll definitely be talking to him in the near future.
Q: Your emotions have had to have run the gamut just all over the place. Can you pinpoint one? Anger? Betrayal? Excitement? Can you talk about that?
JC: It's been a tough couple of days. I think I've had a little bit of everything going through my mind right now. But, like I said, after I sat down with Scott, Scott and Rick it's been a lot of excitement and I look forward to coming in there and being a piece of the puzzle there and building something pretty good in Columbus.
Q: Can you tell everybody in Columbus what you love about playing the sport of hockey?
JC: I mean, it's the best sport there is. For us, we're going out there and doing something that we love to do. You know, they've told me that Columbus is a big college town and they're really behind their Buckeyes, but they've seen in the past that when the Blue Jackets start winning and putting a good team on the ice the fans are really into it and it turns into a real big hockey town. I'm real excited to help them build a winning team and get everybody excited again.
Q: Playing on the ice with Rick (Nash), how excited are you to play on that line with him? This is something that this organization has never had, a player of your caliber. How do you see you guys fitting together?
JC: I'm real excited. Anytime you get a chance to play with a guy like Rick, it definitely puts a smile on your face. I'm excited to get out there and see what we can do together. I think we're two big guys. Rick's had a lot of people keying on him the last eight years that he's been there, so it's not easy doing a lot by yourself. Hopefully I can take some of the weight off his shoulders and try to help him out and help this team out.
Q: If you this to do over again, would you reach out to Scott Howson earlier, reach out to the fans? Any regrets with how this went down and the anxiety that was created with the fan base here?
JC: No, I traded text messages with Scott (Howson) and my agent spoke with Scott and we told them that I was going to take weekend to think things over. I think sometimes when you are caught off guard, you feel a little bit of anger and betrayal, and all the emotions that go with being traded. Sometimes it’s a little better to sit back and kind of think about what you are going to say rather than get out there and say something you are going to regret down the road. Scott and the organization have been real welcoming. They understand the situation and they were fine with me waiting a few days to come out and talk and I really appreciate that from them.
Q: When do you think you are going to come to Columbus for the first time to sort of figure out where you are going to live, to get the lay of the land, that sort of thing?
JC: You know, I am not sure. We talked briefly about that. I’d like to do it sooner rather than later. I want to get settled in, so I don't have to worry about that when I get to town full time. I have a few things going on here, but I would assume sometime within the next month here.
Q: What is it that Howson shared with you about his vision of the Columbus Blue Jackets that excited you so much?
JC: We talked a little bit about what he's looking to do here in the next couple weeks and adding players and whatnot. There really isn’t that much that they need to add. There's a few holes they need to work on, but you look at the lineup and they got a lot of young players that are going to be real good players in this league; guys coming out of junior now and guys on the roster right now. It's a work in progress, but hopefully I can be a big part of that.
Q: Obviously the Columbus fan base wants to see this organization turn around and be more successful and they are putting a lot of hope in you coming in and bringing your caliber and working with Nash to get that to happen. How are you handling dealing with the high expectations from this fan base at this point?
JC: It's exciting. I think that playing in Philly the last few years, you know, every time you step on the ice there are high expectations, so I am pretty much used to that. It’s real exciting. It's a little bit nerve wracking, but I can’t wait to get things going.
Q: You're the guy who shoots the puck a lot. Rick Nash is a guy that shoots the puck a lot. Can you just discuss how that line might work, what the two of you need to work together on that would allow you to click? Also, what sort of winger would be best on your right side?
JC: I think it's something we're going to have to work at. I think that the both of us, all that we want is to win hockey games. I want to come there and I don't want to be done in April. We're both unselfish hockey players. We're both going to have to make a couple of sacrifices, but I think it will work out well. Obviously with what you said with us both being shooters, more scorers than playmakers, we’ll see if we can find someone that's more of a disher and can find the holes and I think it will work out really well.
Q: Do you get the sense that perhaps Rick Nash’s game can be elevated to a whole other level now with a capable No. 1 center next to him who is going to give him the space on the ice that he has not had before?
JC: I definitely think it will. Like I said for the last eight or nine years, he's been really the focal point of that team and other teams, all they’ve been doing is keying on him. Hopefully I can take some of the pressure off of him and really let him evolve into an even better player than he is now and help him out anyway that I can.
Q: Something that has come out the last couple of days, especially in the press conferences in Philadelphia was that one of the reasons they made the moves that they did was to maybe change the culture a little bit in that locker room. What is your response when you hear something like that given as much as you have invested into the team?
JC: I haven't read or listened to any of that from Philly. I've moved on to Columbus here and I'm not worried about what is going on there.
Q: What is the perspective of the Columbus Blue Jackets from outside of the state of Ohio?
JC: I think it's a Columbus team that a lot of people don't know too much about. I know they've had some up and down years and I think they've made the playoffs in their stay in Columbus. It's definitely a work in progress there. Like I said they've got a lot of young guys coming up and I think if we can add a few more pieces to the puzzle here, I don't see why we won’t be in the playoffs next year.
Q: Scott Arniel is one of the bright young coaches in the National Hockey League. I am sure you are familiar with Scott. You met with him this morning. (What are) your impressions of Scott and what do you expect from him?
JC: Scott was great. It was the first time I met him. He was real professional coming in here. We didn't get too much into the hockey specific stuff, but just talking to a few other guys he seems like a real players coach. He's played the game, so he knows what it takes travel-wise and how much you put into this, so you know, I am real excited to work with him.
Q: Can you just give us some specifics as to where you met, what time you met. I assume it was this morning. Where you met, how the conversation started… that sort of thing.
JC: They actually came down to my place in (Sea Isle City, New Jersey) here and met with myself and my agent. I think they flew in from Columbus this morning and got here around noon. We had a good hour, hour and a half talk about pretty much everything. Scott started off kind of filling me in on the organization and how it began. It was real good for me to hear all that stuff.