Carter’s exit only a matter of time

I covered Adam Foote when he bailed on Columbus in the midst of a playoff hunt in 2008. In his last days as Jackets captain, before any trade had been consummated, he waffled publicly while, behind the scenes, his new Colorado Avalanche equipment was ordered and a plane was gassed up and waiting to whisk him away.

Now, we have Carter.

Jackets fans celebrated when he was acquired last summer (for Jake Voracek, a first-round draft pick and a third-round pick). I was among those ballyhooing. Carter was to provide something the Jackets had been lacking throughout their history: a top-line center and a first-rate sniper. The fans bought in and filliped season-ticket sales.

Carter, after a month-long absence because of a shoulder injury, re-entered the lineup in Anaheim last night. He had 10 goals and 17 points in 30 games. He was ranked 267th in the league in scoring, one point behind Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin. Although there is a host of Jackets players who have underachieved during this wickedly depressing season, it is fair to say that Carter has played as if he has one skate out the door.

It is convenient to hark back to when Carter was acquired, and to think we should have seen this coming. The trade shocked him, and the Jackets had to send a weighty contingent of emissaries — general manager Scott Howson, then-coach Scott Arniel and captain Rick Nash — to the New Jersey shore to assuage him. It is easy to say, in hindsight, that he never wanted to be in Columbus, but that is a one-sided view.

As Carter’s agent, Rick Curran, told The Dispatch in September: “The big challenge there is not wondering whether he’ll find comfort there. The question is, can you be in position there to win enough games to have success.”

Put another way: If Carter did not want to be in Columbus, who could blame him?

The same sort of circular logic will apply if the Jackets win the draft lottery and the right to select the consensus No. 1 prospect, Nail Yakupov.

If you are a Jackets fan who has lived through Nikolai Zherdev and Nikita Filatov, you might be saying, “Oh, no, not another Russian.” And if you are Yakupov, you are aware of Zherdev and Filatov and you might be saying, “Oh, no, not Columbus.”

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