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What's Next for The St. Louis Blues?

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1What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Sun May 31, 2009 6:37 am

davetherave

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The St. Louis Blues were the first team of the 'Original Expansion Era' to play for the Stanley Cup. Over the years, the Blues--who were the second NHL team to play in St.Louis, the first being the Eagles in 1934-35 (being a relocation of the Ottawa Senators)--have developed a strong following.

While they were a success in their early years under coach Scotty Bowman, they've had up and down periods, struggling in the 70s, being sold in 1977 to Ralston Purina--and almost becoming dog food as the franchise nearly went under.

They bounced back in the 1980s and 1990s with new ownership, stars like Brett Hull, Doug Gilmour, Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger among others. But in the mid-nineties, things went south again and the Blues were crying the blues in the basement.

Under the astute General Management of former Blues goaltending star John Davidson, though, the Blues have rebuilt their team and made a dramatic run to the playoffs this year (after missing them the last three seasons), under hard nosed coach Andy Murray.

Though they were swept by the Canucks, the future looks good with young stars like TJ Oshie and David Perron among others. This from Yahoo Sports:

For a majority of the Blues, the summer months represent vacation. But not for one young defenseman who is skating three times a week in St. Louis.

Erik Johnson, the NHL’s No. 1 overall pick in 2006, is playing catch-up after missing the entire 2008-09 season because of a knee injury. Johnson was injured in a golf-cart accident last September and needed surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Six months after the surgery, Johnson recently received a 95 percent clean bill of health. While he’s not fully cleared to play yet, he has been skating with former Blue Al MacInnis at the team’s practice facility.

“He’s come a long way the last four or five weeks,” MacInnis said. “His strength is getting a lot better and his mobility is getting there. He’s anxious to get it back to 100 percent, which we feel will be no problem.”

Johnson, 21, said that his offseason came while the Blues were making a run toward the playoffs in March and April. He started skating in April and has been working hard on and off the ice the last couple of months.

“It’s been a long road to recovery,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to see the results and the work I’ve put in and see how far I’ve come. It was all worth it.”

Dr. Mike Stuart, who performed Johnson’s surgery, said the defenseman should have no problem being ready to play in September.

“You can’t really predict the future, but we know from our own experience, treating thousands of athletes with this same problem, that there’s an excellent chance that he will get back to 100 percent of his pre-injury abilities,” Stuart said. “On the other hand, it’s not a normal knee. It’s a reconstructed knee. Sometimes, athletes tell us, it doesn’t really feel like they’ve completely recovered until their second season back.”

Johnson has heard the rumblings that he has lost of a year of his development and that it will be hard to make up.

“I hope people start saying that to me more because it just makes me want to be that much better and prove everybody wrong,” Johnson said. “That’s not being Wang; I’m just really confident in how hard I worked and how good I want to be. I’m sure it will take a little adjustment, but I fully plan to be 100 percent coming back, playing like nothing ever happened.”

Season Highlight: The Blues couldn’t have scripted the night of April 10 any better. In order to make the playoffs that night, the Blues needed their third straight win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in 14 days, and they needed Minnesota to knock off the Nashville Predators. As the Blues were capping off a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jackets, it was announced on the Jumbo-Tron at Scottrade Center that Minnesota had demolished Nashville 8-4. The sold-out crowd in St. Louis went berserk as the Blues ended a three-year playoff drought.

Turning Point: The Blues had a record of 17-23-4 heading into their game at Boston on Jan. 19. In a wild affair, the Blues led 2-1 with less than five minutes left in regulation, but trailed 4-2 with 1 1/2 minutes to play. RW
David Perron scored a power-play goal with 1:20 left, and then C David Backes scored with one second left in regulation, tying the score 4-4. After a scoreless overtime, former Bruin Brad Boyes(notes) helped the Blues to a 5-4 victory in a shootout. Starting with that victory, the Blues finished the regular season 24-8-6 and qualified as the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.

Notes, Quotes

The Blues have re-signed C
Jay McClement to a three-year contract extension worth $4.35 million. McClement had a career-high 12 goals in 2008-09, including three short-handed, as he became a valuable piece of the Blues’ penalty-kill unit. “He really has a defined role that he embraced last season,” Blues president John Davidson said. “He trained real hard and he was able to play 16, 16 1/2 minutes (per game). And a lot of those minutes were hard minutes. We gave Jay an opportunity to get more ice time and he embraced it. A lot of times in this league, it’s about opportunity.”

Former Blue Peter Zezel passed away at the age of 44, following a long battle with a blood disorder. Mr. Zezel had a 15-year NHL career, including two stints with the Blues (1988-90, 1995-97). He scored 25 goals and had 72 points for the Blues in ’89-90. “He had legs on him like a tree trunk,” former teammate and roommate Kelly Chase said. “They had bark on them. He was always a strong, strong guy. It doesn’t matter how strong you were as an athlete or how you think you can beat anything because you were tough as a player. Quickly, that changes.”

Quote To Note: “I always say a guy might be really skilled, but do we really want to go to war with this guy? If a player has special talent, OK, you may have to overlook qualities that this guy lacks. But I personally would rather take a guy with less skill and take a chance on the kind of talent that we believe in, which is character and heart.”—Jarmo Kekalainen, the Blues’ assistant GM and director of amateur scouting, who was attending the NHL combine in late May.

Roster Report

Most Valuable Player: G
Chris Mason, acquired in a trade with Nashville last summer, went from being a potential bust in St. Louis to being the team’s MVP in 2008-09. Without Mason, who started the season 3-13-1 but finished 27-21-7, the Blues had no chance of making the playoffs in the second half of the season. Mason finished the year with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .916 save-percentage, and while he was 0-4 in the playoffs, his individual numbers were similar in the first-round loss to Vancouver.

Most Disappointing Player: G
Manny Legace had a record of 13-9-2 through January with the Blues. But in early February, the club put him on waivers because of off-the-ice issues they had with the goalie. Legace cleared waivers and was assigned to the Blues’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Peoria (Ill.) Rivermen. Legace was a model teammate in the AHL and helped lead the Rivermen into the playoffs, but his contract with the Blues expires this summer and all indications are that he won’t be re-signed by the team.

Free Agent Focus: After signing LW
Andy McDonald to a four-year, $18.8 million extension, the Blues aren’t expected to be too active in free agency. LW Paul Kariya, who played only 11 games in 2008-09, will be back next season. The Blues haven’t decided whether to bring back C Keith Tkachuk in 2009-10, but the club has said that Tkachuk, 37, helped his chances with a strong season. If they don’t re-sign him, the Blues could be looking for a veteran forward in free agency.

St. Louis signed restricted free agent center Jay McClement to a three-year, $4.35 million contract extension May 25.

Player News:

D
Eric Brewer has started rehab once again after having a second back surgery in April. Brewer, who had his first surgery in mid-December, still doesn’t have normal feeling in his right leg or foot. He was ordered to stay away from physical activity for six weeks following his second surgery. He began the rehab process in late May and says he’s optimistic that he’ll be ready to play in September.

C Keith Tkachuk will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, and so far, there’s still no word on whether Tkachuk will re-sign with the Blues. He expressed his desire to return to St. Louis after the season, but the Blues must decide if he fits in their plans. Tkachuk, who made $4.5 million last season, has said that he would expect to take a pay cut and have a limited role on the ice.

G Chris Mason will be the Blues’ starting goaltender and receive a majority of the starts in 2009-10, head coach Andy Murray said recently. It had been debated whether the Blues would search for a No. 1 netminder in the offseason, but Mason’s success in the second half of the 2008-09 season earned him the right. It now appears the Blues will hunt for an experienced backup.

Medical Watch:

D Eric Brewer had a second operation to correct a nerve issue in his back. Brewer left in the lineup in mid-December and had his first surgery on Dec. 19. But because the nerve in his back was not regenerating itself, doctors recommended the second surgery. He’s expected to return for training camp.

D
Jay McKee has a torn meniscus in his knee and was scheduled to undergo minor surgery after the season. McKee will be available at the start of training camp.

D
Barret Jackman played the last two months of the season with a knee injury. An X-ray showed the damage, but Jackman says he will not need surgery.

Lots of excitement in St. Louis...and lots of promise with their young talent.

So are the Blues back as a power? And what's next?



Last edited by davetherave on Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:05 pm; edited 3 times in total

2What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Sun May 31, 2009 9:52 am

Guest


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Without Mason, who started the season 3-13-1 but finished 27-21-7, the Blues had no chance of making the playoffs in the second half of the season.

Since when is 27-21-7 a good record confused

3What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Sun May 31, 2009 12:14 pm

PKC

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The Guy With The Mustache wrote:
Without Mason, who started the season 3-13-1 but finished 27-21-7, the Blues had no chance of making the playoffs in the second half of the season.

Since when is 27-21-7 a good record confused

When you go 24-8-6 in the second half of the season, I'd say that's a pretty good record.

4What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Sun May 31, 2009 12:36 pm

asq2

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They're fine. Probably even ahead of schedule when you consider that Johnson went down. His addition will help greatly next year.

Even with Johnson, Pietrangelo, Colaiacovo and Cole on the future blue-line, I'd look for another defenceman. The forward group, with Berglund, Oshie, Boyes, Backes, Eller, Perron, Steen etc. is pretty packed.

Maybe grab another goalie, too. Although Allen and Bishop definitely don't comprise the worst prospect goaltending corps out there.

5What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:28 pm

davetherave

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ASQ>what's your view on Kariya and McDonald? And do you think the Blues should keep Tkachuk?

6What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:35 pm

Guest


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they make the playoffs, probably between 6 and 8.

7What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:44 pm

davetherave

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It seems the Blues and their owners are doing very well financially...this from CBSSports today:

Blues owner putting group together to buy Rams


ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues principal owner Dave Checketts is heading a group that wants to buy the Rams and keep the team in St. Louis.

A spokesman for Checketts confirmed Tuesday that Checketts leads a group of St. Louisans and outside investors interested in purchasing the NFL team. That news came a day after the Rams said the family of former owner Georgia Frontiere has hired the investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs, a move seen as expediting the possibility of a sale.

Frontiere was majority owner of the Rams, with 60 percent of the team, when she died in January 2008. Her death left her children, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, as majority owners. Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke owns the remaining 40 percent.

8What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:02 pm

davetherave

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From The Belleville News-Democrat:

DAVIDSON EARNS SPOT IN HOCKEY HALL
BLUES PRESIDENT HONOURED FOR BROADCASTING CAREER
Norm Sanders, BND.com, June 4, 2009

John Davidson has received a lot of credit for his rebuilding efforts as president of the St. Louis Blues, but he remains better known within the hockey world for his work as one of the game's top broadcasters.

Davidson on Tuesday was selected as the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner for his work as a television commentator. He will enter the Hockey Hall of Fame's broadcasting wing Nov. 9, before Hall of Fame player induction ceremonies in Toronto.

Former Blues broadcaster Dan Kelly received the honor in 1989. Davidson learned of the honor near the end of the Blues' first-round playoff loss to Vancouver.

"I just about fell off my chair -- and I mean that sincerely," Davidson said Wednesday. "It was a nice thing to have happen. For me, I retired at 29 years of age because of injuries and I was given an opportunity through television to stay within the game itself."

Davidson spent more than 20 years working on New York Rangers broadcasts with the Madison Square Garden Network. He also worked for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and various other national-level broadcasting entities and events, including numerous Stanley Cup finals and NHL All-Star games.

Before joining the Blues in 2006, he had worked on the hockey telecasts at the previous five Winter Olympics. Davidson also received the Lester Patrick Award in 2004 for contributions to hockey in the United States.

"There were a whole group of people who helped me along the way," said Davidson, who began his broadcasting career at age 29. "It was an amazing group that tutored me and helped me and got me through being a rookie again at that age, understanding how it all works.

"It's a great deal of teamwork that it takes to put a game on the air. There's a lot of people that do a lot of things ... it's like a hockey team. Having that team to work with was awesome."

Davidson said he feels lucky to have met so many people through hockey broadcasting, and to be able to do something he truly enjoyed.

"It was a labor of love," Davidson said. "It provided an income for myself and my family and something I loved doing at the same time. I was very, very fortunate in that way."

Davidson began his hockey career as a goalie, drafted in the first round (fifth overall) by the Blues in 1973. He was traded to the Rangers in 1975 and played there until being forced to retire in 1983.

The hockey world has long recognized Davidson's immense communication skills.

Blues vice chairman Mike McCarthy worked alongside Davidson for 25 years when both were at MSG Network.

"While at MSG Network together, I witnessed him set the industry standard for a color analyst in any sport," McCarthy said, "and watched him connect with hockey fans throughout the country like no other broadcaster I have had the privilege to work with has then or since.

"John Davidson has had a remarkable career in almost every aspect of professional hockey, and we as a broadcast community benefited immensely from his expertise and professionalism," said Chuck Kaiton, president of the NHL Broadcasters' Association. "He is an incredibly deserving recipient of this honor."


Contact reporter Norm Sanders at nsanders@bnd.com or 239-2454.

9What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:18 am

Cap'n Clutch

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I think the Blues need to start by staying healthy and then move on to slow steady improvements to the team. Will they make the playoffs again next season? Still too early to tell.


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10What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:49 pm

davetherave

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ESPN's EJ Hradek and Puck Prospectus' Iain Fyffe surmise what kind of the song the Blues may seek to sing next season.

BLUES NEED BLUE-LINE 'MOVER'
Back end has provided little offensive help
EJ Hradek, Iain Fyffe/ESPN INSIDER, June 18, 2009


Plugging Holes - St. Louis Blues

What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Stl
The Hole: Offensive defenseman

St. Louis suffered from an utter lack of offense from the blue line last year. Their top six defensemen (Carlo Colaiacovo, Barret Jackman, Jeff Woywitka, Roman Polak, Jay McKee and Mike Weaver) combined to score 12 goals, and none of them had more than 89 shots on goal. Worse, they combined for -2.2 GVT for even-strength offense, meaning they didn't even reach replacement level on ES offense. Colaiacovo did a good job on the power play (3.1 offensive GVT), but without the man advantage he didn't do much (0.4 GVT, best among the team's defensemen).

The Fix: Sign D Marc-Andre Bergeron (UFA, Wild)

Bergeron can be had fairly cheap; he has a poor defensive reputation and made about $1.7 million last year with Minnesota. His 1.9 even-strength offensive GVT blows the existing Blues defensemen out of the water, and his 3.4 PP offensive GVT would have been the best on the team, as well. The Blues should sign him, and make him the primary point man with the man advantage. Don't overextend him by relying on him too much defensively, though GVT sees him as being a fairly good defensive defenseman, as well. His even-strength defensive GVT was 2.7, which would put him just behind Woywitka (3.3) and Colaiacovo (2.8) and even with McKee.

E.J.'s Take: I see Bergeron as a power-play specialist with a heavy shot from the point. He can add an offensive boost in those situations. While he might fill a short-term need in St. Louis, the club's blue-line firepower should be helped by the simple return of young stud D Erik Johnson, who missed the entire season due to a knee injury.

At present, the Blues seem to be focused on a bigger fish for their blue line. They're very interested in making a deal to reacquire D Chris Pronger, who has only one year left on his current contract. If Scott Niedermayer decides to return to Anaheim, the Ducks might be willing to move Pronger to alleviate some of their cap issues. Niedermayer is expected to make his decision known to Ducks GM Bob Murray prior to the upcoming draft. At that time, the Blues will have a better idea if there's an opportunity to pursue their former star defender.

Iain Fyffe is a writer for Puck Prospectus. E.J. Hradek is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

Note: A mainstay of Puck Prospectus's metrics is "Goals Versus Threshold" (GVT). The stat blends an array of offensive and defensive figures to measure the value, in terms of goals, a player contributes above what the marginal player would over the course of the season. A marginal player is one that could be replaced with a player of equivalent skill, e.g. from the minors. For instance, Evgeni Malkin had an offensive GVT of +18.9, a defensive GVT of +4.5 and a total GVT of +23.4 for the 2008-9 regular season, meaning that Malkin was worth 23.4 goals more than a marginal player over the course of the season, or worth about 0.3 additional goals per game. In the team context, GVT refers to performance above an NHL average team. For the regular season, the Detroit Red Wings had a +30.8 offensive GVT, a +15.1 defensive GVT, a -21.5 goaltending GVT, for a +24.4 total GVT. Therefore, at even strength, Detroit was 24.4 goals better than the average team.



Last edited by davetherave on Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:11 pm; edited 1 time in total

11What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:55 pm

PTFlea

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Blues sign Tkatchuk to a 1 year, 2.15 million dollar deal.

12What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:04 pm

SensFan71


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SpezDispenser wrote:Blues sign Tkatchuk to a 1 year, 2.15 million dollar deal.

very smart by the Blues, he has been a staple of that organization from way back since I can remember.

13What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:42 pm

asq2

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Erik Johnson is a fabulous defenceman. He had 33 points in his rookie season (and missed 13 games).

I don't see the Blues as a team that needs to do anything.

14What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:25 am

davetherave

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asq2 wrote:Erik Johnson is a fabulous defenceman. He had 33 points in his rookie season (and missed 13 games).

I don't see the Blues as a team that needs to do anything.

So you basically agree with Hradek?

"...the club's blue-line firepower should be helped by the simple return of young stud D Erik Johnson, who missed the entire season due to a knee injury."

15What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? Empty Re: What's Next for The St. Louis Blues? on Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:29 pm

davetherave

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Picking this sizeable Swede, the Blues may see David Rundblad as a Chris Pronger type.

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