Blues chat with Jeremy Rutherford

Bring your questions about the Blues and the NHL, and talk to Post-Dispatch hockey writer Jeremy Rutherford in a live chat starting at 1 p.m.




  • Ha! Well because the other expansion possibilities (Seattle, KC, Quebec City) didn't have their house in order. With $500 million from Vegas sitting on the table, the league wasn't going to wait. It's not ideal, but they're taking it one step at a time with the understanding that eventually another team (and another $500 million) will be added at some point.
  • Hello, do you think Vegas will "promote" their own prospects in Chicago by giving them more ice time as compared to Blues prospects? Where will all "extra" Blues AHL players will end up (those who will not go to Wolves)?
  • Vegas will do what's best for Vegas. Armstrong mentioned his good relationship with Vegas GM George McPhee as being a reason why this could work, and perhaps that will help, but McPhee is not doing his job if he's not putting the Golden Knights' prospects in the best possible position. And we're not even factoring in that Vegas is going to be dealing with some of the same issues with the Wolves that the Blues had with them. This is new to the Blues and I've never covered a situation like this, so I don't think anyone can say with certainty how it's going to play out, but it's not good. As far as the remaining Blues prospects who don't get spots with the Wolves, Armstrong said he's been in touch with other AHL teams who are receptive to the idea of housing some of the Blues' prospects on loan.
  • One area of the game that really chaps my AZZ, is diving. Will the league ever change the rules and come down on the players who do it. Perhaps instituting heavy fines to players to hopefully get it out of the game. Do players and coaches talk about diving much?
  • Well, they put in the embellishment penalty and called it fairly regularly (though wrongly at times) and fined players beyond the penalties they've received. Still, it continues. I've heard nothing from GMs, coaches, players or anyone about the need for further discipline to get a better handle on it, so I don't think they see it as a major problem right now. I agree that when we do see obvious examples, it's beyond comprehension that it exists. But again, I don't think we're seeing it so often that it's needs to be the top priority at GM meetings like we see with other issues that pop up.
  • Hey JR, Any chance the Blues upgrade at the National Anthem Singer position next season?
  • What??? You don't like Mr. Charles Glenn? C'mon man!
  • How excited are the TV executives at the prospect of an Ottawa - Nashville final? That'll suck in the casual sports fan.
  • No disrespect to the teams and their fans, both are passionate cities. But yeah, I think they will be passing out barf bags at NBC and at the league headquarters.
  • JR. Not a Blues comment or question. Have you been watching the Preds-Ducks series? It seems like the Preds have lost their identity in this series. They were hitting machines during the first two rounds of the playoffs and their defense is not being aggressive like they were. They are backing in on Pecca and letting the Ducks have a lot of good scoring chances.
  • The Preds haven't been on top of their game as they were against the Blues and Chicago, but that's part of playing in the third round. The competition is greater, the opponents have had more time to see what you're doing and everybody is fatigued and playing on adrenaline. The games that I've seen, including the comeback last night, the Preds have put some heavy pressure on Anaheim, but that hasn't been the whole series. But give Anaheim some credit and also realize that it's hard to play on top of your game like Nashville did in the first two series.
  • In response to the previous caller... Stillman's group purchased the Blues for $130 million. In theory that price took into consideration the lowered earning power the Checketts deals left the new owners (parking, concessions). The Blues were valued after the new network deals were signed a couple of years ago at $270 million. The Blues might have negative operating cash flow, but they are not losing money. The owners have done quite well in more than doubling the value of the franchise. The new tv deal in a few years will help and a few years after that the concession and parking deals will come back into play. As long as this group can handle whatever cash flow issues are created, they'll do very well. This is probably the best ownership group the Blues have ever had, they're doing well and I think the Blues as a team will too IMHO
  • I understand your point. I'm not even saying that they're losing money. They definitely have built up some equity. But those values established by Forbes are just values. The Blues don't want to see, but if they did, could they get $270 tomorrow? I don't know. They couldn't get more than $130 a few years ago. So yeah, they're in better shape, but they've put themselves in better shape even though they've been operating with less revenue than they could have if Checketts hadn't taken the up-front deals.
  • JR. How are ya buddy? Blysma, Therrien? What is the probability? I will sign off and read your response.
  • I mentioned Bylsma and Therrien because of Yeo's past history with them, but I don't know that either would consider the role. After hearing Armstrong praise the jobs by Berube, Sydor and Daniel Tkaczuk, I almost fully expect two or all three of them to get the jobs.
  • Any new news around concussions in hockey? The NFL gets lots of press about it with players planning to donate their brain after they pass away. Maybe its me, but the talk seems to have died down a bit. It seems that less fighting may have taken some of the focus away. Am I right?
  • There's an ongoing lawsuit with former NHL players that is playing out as we speak. You're right, there isn't as much talk about it, especially compared to the NFL, but it hasn't gone away. The decrease in fighting might have minor part in that, but the concussion issue in the NHL is still alive and well.
  • Why won't the blues pony up and get their own ahl affiliate. Berube did a great job down there and had Agostino, Barbeshev, Paajarvi and others playing at an NHL level. I don't know how the Blues not invest in that!!
  • It's not that the Blues didn't want to invest in that. It's that the deal expired and the Wolves had a better option. The Blues could have invested all they wanted, but there wasn't a home for them. We can definitely criticize the team for putting itself in this position, but once their other options (KC, etc.) fell through, they didn't have a place to go.
  • During the playoffs I got tired of hearing about faceoff percentage. That seems to be an overstated statistic. Over the course of a game a 10% swing in face off percentages is only a 5-6 win difference, and most of the time those aren't even in high leverage situations and are going to end up getting turned over without harm.
  • You can lose the faceoff battle and still win, yeah. The Blues got killed against Minnesota and won the series. But if you lose the faceoff battle that badly over the course of the regular season or throughout the entire playoffs, you're not going to win that many games. It might be the difference of 5-6 faceoff wins per game. Well, that's 492 over an 82-game schedule and 168 over a 28-game playoff schedule. It only takes a couple to score and in an age when most playoff games are one-goal finishes, that's a huge difference.
  • Is there any chance of KC still being the Blues AHL home at some point? Or has that ship completely sailed? Any idea what made the KC idea fall through?
  • I don't have enough info to call it dead. But I believe that the plan for ownership in KC fell through. I don't think the Blues are interested in buying an AHL franchise or establishing an expansion AHL franchise. I believe they're looking for an independently-owned club. Whether that can still in happen in KC, I just don't know right now.
  • I believe Kurt's point was that, why don't the Blues invest in owning an AHL franchise of their own? If they wanted to own one, they'd own one but clearly they don't want to spend that sort of money and are relying on someone else to step forward and own a team (like Hunt in KC). The Blues are relying on the help of others and it ended up with them not having their own affiliate since they can't afford to own one themselves.
  • Re-reading his question, you're probably right that that was his point. Answering that, I'll say that AHL franchises are not money-makers, that's why the Blues got out of Peoria. Some people might say, 'Well, don't worry about making money, just have a place for your prospects that you can control.' You're right and that makes sense, but probably for the bigger-market teams that's not an issue. For the Blues, trying to survive in a smaller market, it's more of an issue. If the Blues can forge a relationship like they had with the Wolves early on, that's probably the best scenario. They're not going to find another deal like they had last year, controlling the Wolves, but again that's because the Wolves didn't have any options.
  • Hello, do Blues use Mavericks at all? What was the point of that agreement?
  • That's ECHL, not the same.
  • Jeremy -- I am not buying the Blues' spin on the lack of an AHL affiliate next season. If it is just one season, maybe it won't turn out to be a big deal, but it's kind of embarrassing they had at least a year to figure this out and didn't do it. The comments from the Wolves owner kind of proves the relationship had been on its last legs for quite some time. The Blues had a long time to do figure this out and didn't do it. On a related thought: This seems so obvious to me, but why don't the Blues buy an AHL team and put it in St. Charles? Yes, I know owning it outright is another expense, but you will save a ton in travel expenses. Armstrong can just drive 30 minutes if he wants to see a prospect. I think St. Charles would love it. Heck, the Blues minor league team could even practice at the new practice facility. Other teams do something similar. Why not the Blues? Makes no sense to me why they wouldn't.
  • Some NHL franchises have done that and succeeded, but from what I've heard from multiple Blues owners over the years is that it doesn't make sense for St. Louis. Very few lower levels of hockey have excelled at selling tickets in St. Louis. Secondly, if the Blues own the St. Charles team, you're taking potential ticket buyers away from your own product. I realize people are going to Blues games if that's what they want to do, but for a franchise that fights to fill the building, having a cheaper alternative for hockey fans to get their fix might not be a great idea ... that's what I've been told by people in charge of making those decisions.
  • Follow up on the concussion question. There is simply no way Crosby is not feeling the affects of a concussion. He does not look like himself after the head hit against Washington. It is a work in progress in all professional sports right now, but it is clear that the decision of playing the player needs to be taken out of the hands of the player and the coaching staff.
  • I don't get it either. I didn't get how he wasn't pulled out of that game. I know he said he ogt the wind knocked out of him one night, not a concussion, but to not even leave the game??? The league established a new protocol with spotters in the arena and I don't know that we can say that we've seen it have an effect. So to answer your question, it has been taking out of the players' and coaches' hands, but we still see situations like Crosby's.
  • I think it is a big deal that the Stars signed Bishop. They have a lot of talent and have always been held up by poor goal tending. Do you see them pushing the division next year?
  • Bishop is a huge upgrade in Dallas. The Stars may not push for the division but with Hitch's knowledge of the division and a goaltender who can stop the puck, they'll be much improved.
  • Appreciate your response and reporting what Blues management has said. But again, I am skeptical. Do the River City Rascals cost the Cardinals any fans? No. It's not a perfect comparison, but people that want to see the NHL will find it.
  • Apples and oranges.
  • If the Blues don't go all in on a blockbuster deal, I'd love to see them sign someone like Justin Williams. He's a proven winner, probably wouldn't cost a lot, and would be a good mentor for guys like Fabbri and Barbashev. Any rumblings from the front office expressing interest in signing him?
  • I think Williams should be on the Blues' radar. I know he was part of the roster that didn't get it done in Washington, but he's an established veteran who plays the right wing, where they could use somebody and he wouldn't cost a ton.
  • JR. I think that most people are not thinking that most of the Vegas prospects are going to be to young and not experienced enough to play in the AHL next year. They will have to draft them first and like most draftees, they don't see the AHL for a year or two.
  • That is true and that is why it might work for one year. But in knowing the relationship between the Blues and Wolves, how can anybody think that that will turn out positive?
  • I noticed people saying that they would leave Perron unprotected for the draft. I thought he was one of the most consistent hard working players for the blues this year! What are your thoughts?
  • Perron had 18 goals in the regular season and was one of the better bargains in free agency. The postseason didn't help him, but that's how it goes sometimes. The Blues didn't get much help from any of their "secondary" scorers. As far as the protected list, I think it's more complicated than just saying he's one of the Blues' more consistently hardworking players. We know that Tarasenko, Schwartz, Steen, Stastny, Berglund and Sobotka will be protected. I'm sure some will question Berglund and/or Sobotka, but they just signed both to salary-cap friendly deals, so they're going to hang onto them. Then you have to decide between Perron/Reaves/Jaskin/Lehtera/Brodziak for one spot. Some people like Perron and I do too, but there are more Perron's available in free agency than Reaves, I believe. Let's say you leave Reaves unprotected and Vegas snatches him. So the Blues show up to training camp next year and look around thinking, 'Who's protecting anybody?' I realize fighting is down, but we'll never know what doesn't happen on the ice to guys like Tarasenko until Reaves isn't here. And with a guy like Reaves, who can play a little too and is one of the Blues' better forecheckers, they don't grow on trees. I actually think the Blues would consider protecting Jaskin out of that group. So I think there's a lot more to consider than the effort we see from a guy because I agree, Perron does give you that most nights.
  • Today, who's your pick to win the Cup?
  • I'm staying with Nashville.
  • I'll take one more question and then I'm off to reward my 7-year-old daughter with an ice cream after wrapping up the 2nd grade today.
  • JR, I noticed in Army's exit press conference that he said Steen played for the crest. Who else on the team do you think plays for the crest?
  • I typed up an answer and just lost, so let's try this again ... give me a minute please!
  • Steen is definitely one and there are others. Was Armstrong possibly referring to some players looking out for themselves? Sure. That's where the term "Independent contractors" comes into play. But I think he was also referring to the fact that the players weren't looking past their resentment for the coaching situation (Hitch) and just playing. They were too caught up in whatever resentment they had for him and not playing for the crest that way. They certainly did that under Yeo and I think that proved Armstrong's point.
  • My original answer to that last question was amazing but no one will ever see it. It's always difficult to duplicate it, but I did my best. You only had to wait 10 minutes for it. Thanks for the questions and hopefully I didn't make anyone dumber with the answers. Time to eat some ice cream, I mean time for my daughter to eat some ice cream. Have a great weekend!
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