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Jimmy Carson in the wrong place at wrong time


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  I have been writing up a list of best and worst deals by team and the name Jimmy Carson keeps coming up, he has always been a favorite of mine, a 'what if' kind of player who IMHO if the breaks had come would have had possibly a Hall of Fame Career.


 "The end analysis was, I was not Wayne Gretzky."


  That is how Carson th?id=OIP.Ma71a02352ceda708ca3270883875c summed up his career, but there is so much more than that.

 In 1986 the Wings had the first pick in the draft as the leagues worst team and went with Michigan State product Joe Murphy over Carson who went second to the Kings. Murph was more or less a bust with the Wings but as for Carson.....

WOW, he nailed it as an 18 year old rookie (37-42-79) and then was even better the next season, becoming only the second teenager ever to score 50 goals (Gretzky being the first). He was 19, the Hockey World was taking notice of his immense talent and the world was his oyster.

  And then came the trade.One month after his 20th birthday he was the center piece of the deal that sent the Great one to Los angeles and Carson to the th?id=OIP.M3291403f5ca93b33221605c446db7 Oilers.

  He was brilliant the first year, scoring 49 goals and 100 points for his last great year, he was not washed up at 20 but his best days were behind him. The Oilers were stunned in the first round, Carson played poorly and he was booed and reviled, the pressure got to him and he asked for a trade. 4 games in to the following year the Oilers granted his wish.

  He was sent home to the th?id=OIP.M175978b511a70574cf337ea7be2dd Wings for a package that included Petr Klima, Joe Murphy and Adam Graves. All had been enigmatic in Detroit but they helped to get the Oilers over the hump and they won the cup that year. Carson began hearing the boo birds in Detroit because he was not as good as he was supposed to be. former owner Bruce McNall explained why he dealt him away in the Gretzky deal. th?id=OIP.Mdb7434f3ff35722589b0b2374dc8d

  “In a weird way, I knew Jimmy’s heart was not as much into it,” says McNall of his friend, who neither smoked, drank nor partied with teammates. “He was an intellectual, multidimensional guy, read the Wall Street Journal, and so many other players just don’t have his opportunities and interests. So I always thought, deep down, that maybe long-term hockey wouldn’t be for him.”


  So he hung out with friends outside of Hockey and had other interests other than the game. That is what he was blasted for, it was stated, in whispers and out loud that he did not care enough, that he could not handle the pressure. He was a different cat, instead of drinking and whoring with the boys he went home to his wife and kids and had outside interests.

  Four good but not great seasons in Detroit where he was booed unmercifully for not being a star ended when he was dealt back to the Kings in a lopsided deal, the Wings sent Carson to the Kings for Paul Coffey who helped put the Wings back on the map. In Los Angeles.

  The Kings were coached by long time tough guy Barry th?id=OIP.Mfad147c65054645d34d73c166fc61 Melrose who simply HATED Carson and buried him. The Kings went to the Cup finals that year and lost with Carson more or less along for the ride. a healthy scratch 6 times in the playoffs and played sparingly in 18 games he contributed 5 goals and 9 points.

  The following year he was  buried in Chateau Bow Wow (the Dog House for you and I) by Melrose and only appeared in 25 games with 4 goals before being mercifully donated to Vancouver where he finished the year before spending two seasons in obscurity in Hartford th?id=OIP.M4df38ad6237b0527413b4fea5d1c9 before his NHL career limped to an end. He was 27 years old when he last took the ice in the NHL.

  I have written to him for his autograph and he is always quick to reply, several people who I chat with in autograph geek forums say he is one of the most gentlemanly, courteous signers out there. The worst thing ever written about him was McNall saying he did not like him because he did not party and go out drinking with the boys.

IF he had been kept by the Kings in Los Angeles where the team barely is noticed even now with them being relevant, he may have had a chance to grow his game in relative obscurity and been a damn good one. Or if he had been drafted by the Wings and had his first three years of 79, 107 and 100 points in Detroit he would have been a home town boy made good and a local hero, you can say what if with a lot of players but Carson really could have been a star of the first order if the sun and moon had aligned properly. Instead he had his last great year at 20 in Edmonton, all the while being booed and was was gone from the game at 27.




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