Getting Carter

ROB TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

Anson Carter could barely find a job in the weeks leading up to training camp this year, but he'll generate a lot of interest at the deadline. Surround him with talent and he could be a valuable rent-a-player.

"I guess when you're on a one-year deal this kind of situation comes up, but it doesn't mean you have to like it," said Carter, adding Columbus has really grown on him. "When you're in a place where you're happy you think about those rumours a little more. It's only human nature. If people involved in rumours say they don't think about it, they're lying.

"But you have to be a pro. You can't sulk, you can't be bitter. Nobody put a gun to my head and said you have to play in the NHL, and trades come with the territory."

Then again, rent-a-players have a good shot at Stanley.

"Ah, it's pretty easy to step in at the deadline on a contender, get a ring and say you're a champion. It's not the same as grinding it out with your teammates from the start of training camp."

BACK TO NORMAL: The spotlight is off and the 15 minutes are up for Rory Fitzpatrick.

"Finally," laughed Vancouver's blue-collar defenceman, the centre of a major stir when an Internet gag almost got him voted to the NHL All-Star game. "To be honest it wasn't that big a deal for me, but it sure gained a lot of attention around the league - people were getting pretty heated up about it."

Would he have gone to Dallas had the Internet voters succeeded?

"I would have asked around to see what everybody wanted me to do," he said. "But I was probably leaning towards no."

WORST INJURY EVER: Oilers defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist's injury was straight from a Beavis and Butthead episode.

He's not even sure what an inflamed pubic bone is, other than a ligament in the nether regions, but he can tell you (like you need to be told) that it isn't pleasant. "When I'd cough or sneeze it was one of the worst things I've ever felt."

So a tour of the pepper factory was out of the question. He says the only thing worse than the injury was the treatment - burying everything in ice every day.

"In that area, ice isn't fun," he said. "The injection wasn't much fun, either."

Injection!

"Had to get a needle. That was pretty scary. Kind of an area where you don't know if you really want a needle."

BLUES IN A PICKLE: What do you do if you're John Davidson? St. Louis fans went into a full-scale revolt after last year's fire sale gutted the team and ended a 25-year playoff run. A once-proud market played to crowds of 6,000 and 7,000 this season. Only now, with Andy Murray leading them on a 13-4-2 charge, are fans starting to trickle back.

Just in time for another fire sale. The Blues have a cast of aging players and impending UFAs - Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin, Eric Brewer, Manny Legace, Radek Dvorak and Jamal Mayers - who could be auctioned to contenders for building blocks. But how do you clean house again, even if it's probably for the best in the long run?

HOME FRIED: The Flyers are in a stretch drive of their own right now. They have three (3) home ice wins all season, the NHL record for fewest is six. The race continues ... Useless stat of the week: Teams that score first in the shootout win 86% of the time ... For future SportSelect reference: The Devils have lost seven of their last eight games to Atlanta ... The Nashville Predators have scored 185 goals and allowed 133, the best differential in the league. So how does Jordin Tootoo get to -10?

NO PAIN, NO GAIN: Avs defenceman Karlis Skrastins plays his 485th game tonight, leaving him one shy of tying Tim Horton's ironman record for defencemen. "He's a warrior," said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. "He takes a puck in the face and you go, 'I don't think he's going to be around for a couple of weeks.' And he's at practice the next day." ... Meanwhile, Florida's Branislav Mezei makes Peter Forsberg look like Gary Unger. He only played 16 games last season (knee), missed 37 in 2003-04 (eye), and made it to the starting line just 11 times in 2002-03 (foot and ankle). Now he's gone for the year after shoulder surgery.

TOUGH GLOVE: After being pounded out of the playoffs last spring by Edmonton, Wings coach Mike Babcock is glad teams are trying to push his guys around this season. He figures it'll toughen them up for the spring. "I liked the fact they ran us early, and we responded," Babcock told reporters after the Wings gritted out a 4-3 win over some feisty Islanders. "That's what teams think they can do to us at playoff time. That's not going to happen this year."


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