Carter began weight training at Michigan State, and in his last three seasons with the Spartans he averaged a point and a penalty minute per game. (In his junior year he decided to focus his energies almost entirely on hockey and left the premed program. He's two classes short of a degree in sociology.) In his senior season he was named team captain and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
Michigan State is also where Carter met his best friend, Terri Keranen, now a 27-year-old math teacher at Langley (Va.) High. Keranen was nearby when Carter was struggling to break into the NHL. Carter had been traded to the Washington Capitals in the spring of 1996, and even though he excelled for the Caps' American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine, in 1996-97 (38 points in 27 games before being called up), he couldn't get consistent ice time given Washington's veteran-dominated lineup.
On March 1, 1997, Carter was having dinner at a restaurant when he saw a report on television that he had been traded, along with center Jason Allison and goalie Jim Carey, to the Bruins for three accomplished veterans: center Adam Oates, right wing Rick Tocchet and goalie Bill Ranford. Carter then raced to Keranen's house where he got more details on the trade.
"I had gone to see Carter at Portland, and he made sure I came back," says Bruins scout Gerry Cheevers of Carter's inspired play. "He skated stronger than anyone else, and every time he was in a collision, he came out on top. We had a few players we needed to get from Washington to give up the players we gave up. Anson was at the top of our list."
While solidifying his position as an up-and-coming NHL star and garnering a measure of riches—he's in the second year of a two-year, $1.5 million deal—Carter hasn't let his single-mindedness wane. He lives alone in an apartment six minutes walking distance from the FleetCenter where the Bruins play, and he says that what he wants out of life is simply "to be the best hockey player I can be."
Others are taking notice. One day last month he stopped at a restaurant near Boston's Copley Square for some pasta and salad. As he left, a male diner turned to his female companion and said, "That was Anson Carter."
"Who's that?" she asked.
"He's a hockey player."