October 08, 2013

Anson Carter: Canadian Gold

Dread-locked Canadian hockey star Anson Carter had a lengthy NHL career where he scored over 200 goals in 674 career games. The Michigan State grad was a star in both Boston and Edmonton, and later in Vancouver.

But he will always be remembered for scoring the overtime game winning goal against Sweden at the 2003 World Hockey Championships, giving Canada the gold medal.

In a thrilling exchange of hockey, both teams went for broke in the extra period. With the dreaded shootout looming, both Canada's Roberto Luongo and Sweden's Mikael Tellqvist stood tall.

But the deadlock would finally be broke by the man in dreadlocks. Anson Carter grabbed his own rebound from a long slapshot and quickly spun behind the net with a wrap-around effort, tucking the puck under the right pad of Tellqvist at 13:49.

Carter thrust his arms up in celebration and was quickly mobbed by his teammates. The party, was premature, however, as Czech referee Vladimir Sindler phoned upstairs for a video review to ensure that the puck had legally crossed the goal line.

An agonizing wait ensued as IIHF official reviewed the play from every possible angle. After what seemed like an eternity they allowed the goal, and the party was back on.

"I saw it go in. There was no doubt in my mind," said Carter.

The victory was significant as it marked Canada's return to the top of the international hockey world. The nation had a medal-less drought at the worlds going back to 1998. Add poor performances by the junior team and failures by both the men and women's team at the 1998 Olympics, and a national crisis of sorts was triggered.

"Everyone doubted Canadian hockey for a while but I think we've proven we can win in North America and we can win in Europe as well. Never underestimate Canadian pride and the Canadian work ethic," said Carter proudly.

Carter may have been on top of the world at that moment, but he soon fell on hard times. Inexplicably his season in New York went sour quickly and only got worse, being traded twice - to Washington and Los Angeles.

“I never got down on myself – never, never, never,” Carter said. “And that’s because I knew, given the opportunity, I could be an asset for a team. That sense never left me, even when I was struggling. I knew I could still do good things.”

 “It wasn’t fun (in New York). Let’s leave it at that. I know a few other guys felt the same way. For whatever reason, a lot of guys weren’t happy, and losing only made the situation tougher to deal with.”

By 2005-06 Carter joined the Vancouver Canucks. Playing alongside the fabulous Sedin Twins, Carter had his best season, scoring 33 goals! The trio were colloquially know as "The Brothers," while Carter would win the team's Most Exciting Player award.

Surprisingly Carter did not return to Vancouver to reunite with the Twins. It proved to be a big mistake. The Twins were on the verge of entering superstar status, and Carter could have been along for the ride. Instead he held out for more money, and eventually signed with Columbus and finished the season with Carolina. He scored a measly total of just 11 goals. He would never play in the NHL again.

Carter did explore playing opportunities in Europe, playing in Lugano, Switzerland.

Carter had plenty of interests outside of the game. He founded Big Up Entertainment, a record label specializing in hip hop music.

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