If the Blue Jackets were not the last-place team in the NHL, Jeff Carter would be a happy, productive member of the team.

That is an interesting premise. Does it hold?

Failed relationships in sports can be ugly things.

I covered Brendan Shanahan when he begged off the Hartford Whalers in 1996. It was a punch in the gut for the fans who felt big-timed, but at least Shanahan made his decision public and accepted the wrath he knew was coming.

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.