Voorhees, NJ – This time last summer was not the best of times for the Flyers' Jeff Carter.
While he should have been training hard for his first NHL season, after coming off of a Calder Cup championship with the Phantoms, Carter was instead bedridden with a severe case of mononucleosis. The illness affected his training regimen, which in turn hampered his play on the ice.
"It was a big setback," said Carter of the ordeal. "I didn't get to do anything during the summer, so it was tough getting back into shape. It took me awhile to get back up to speed with everything and it came along, slowly."
Now, Carter is back at the Sovereign Bank Flyers Skate Zone to train with the club's Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach Jim McCrossin and get a head start on the competition – something he was unable to do last year.
"I know this is a big summer for me, so it was probably the right choice for myself, getting back here working with Jim," he said. "It's definitely going to be a big help going into camp. I will be in shape, I will have been here for a couple of weeks working with Jimmy, so hopefully I can be in top shape right from the start."
Despite the slow start, Carter was one of the team's biggest offensive threats down the stretch. He scored a goal in nine of the last 17 games, and finished with 23 total, which placed him third on the team. He also displayed a knack for scoring at key moments, tying for the team lead in game-winning goals with seven. That total also placed him tied for 11th in the NHL in that category.
"Overall I was pretty pleased; I think the start was pretty tough for me just getting accustomed to the NHL game and lifestyle but as it went on I was happy how things progressed," said Carter.
This season, Carter is among a group of second-year players that will be counted on for the team to succeed. Some of the others include his fellow first-round draft choice from 2003, Mike Richards; center R.J. Umberger, defenseman Freddy Meyer and goaltender Antero Niittymaki.
A full year's service in the NHL will go a long way as Carter and his fellow sophomores prepare for the 2006-07 campaign.
"I think it is going to be huge," said Carter. "The first season is a learning experience for everyone, and to get that out of the way and have the year that we did, I think we are pretty happy with how it went and it is something to build on."