When I first caught wind that the Post-Dispatch sports editors were considering me for the Blues' beat in 2005, I couldn't believe it. I called every family member I had and told them that it might happen. I called again days later to tell them it was happening. It's 2017, 12 years later, and I still can't believe it. Who grows up in St. Louis and gets to cover the hometown hockey team for the major daily newspaper for a living? I got to and I tried not to take a single day for granted. To go anywhere in St. Louis and hear the excitement of Blues' fans talking about the upcoming season, or the anticipation of the playoffs, is a feeling that you just don't get in a lot of professions. I knew that and I appreciated that. Having said that, let me tell you this. In 2003, as I've mentioned before, I lost my mom to ovarian cancer. Since that day, there is nothing in this world that matters more to me than family. Not that it wasn't important before, but the world changed for me the day she died. I'm sure many of you have gone through something similar, so you know the feeling. Well, I had a job to do after that, and a fun one, so I poured my heart into it over the last decade or so. But as my children got older (they're now 8 and 4), I realized that I was missing a lot. I don't want them to suddenly be 18 years old and I missed out on everything. So a few days ago, I gave the Post-Dispatch my resignation. I'm tearing up as I type this. My mom would have been so proud. Soon I will be able to tell you what I'm doing next and I think you will like what you hear. We will still be together, but that's all I want to say for now. The reason I'm telling you this is because I wanted to use the chat today to say "Thank you" to you guys. Everyone of you. Thanks for all the questions, interaction, tweets, emails, etc. The thing I don't want, though, is for this chat to be about me. I want it to be about the Blues. Just like everyday for the last 12 years when I wanted my articles to be about the Blues, not the writer. You love the team, I was just fortunate to be able to deliver the news to you. So let's keep it that way today. Let's get chattin ...
The NHLPA rookie showcase is an event that the Players Association started that puts some of the best talent from on the league on teams, kind of like a prospect All-Star game. The Traverse City tournament is a round-robin event with eight NHL teams, and the Blues are one of them.
If the Blues stay healthy, a big if, it's going to be hard for any of them to get a crack this year. I've said before that unless Kyrou lights the world on fire in camp that he'll likely head back to juniors for another year. We just don't know enough about Kostin yet, other than it looks like he's got a big ceiling. He's coming back from an injury and transitioning to North America. Thompson got a taste last year in the AHL and was really raw. So to me Kostin and Thompson have a chance maybe to get in a few games this year. My guess is that the Blues would have to be fairly decimated by injury. But you never know, the Blues are turning this team over to the young guys and if one of those players shows them something in camp, they'll prove me wrong.
That was certainly noticeable in the few games he played last year. We asked him and some teammates about that and they all agreed that the physicality would come back when he got more games under his belt.
I've spoken with both players recently and both believe they're on track. Fabbri is obviously much further along, returning from his torn ACL, and he's expected to be ready for camp. Berglund, as you know, will be out until at least December. Berglund didn't skate the day I was at the practice facility, but I'm sure he's getting in some skating.
Berglund was in Sweden doing some off-ice training. He was pushing a sled in street clothes and tennis shoes when he slipped and popped his shoulder. He and the team decided to get surgery right away, as opposed to letting it linger like last time.
Immediately below those two are Ville Husso and Jordan Binnington, and then you've got a prospect group that includes names like Luke Opilka (injured) and Evan Fitzpatrick.
I'll set the over/under on Blues' 20-goal scorers at 3 (Tarasenko, Schwartz, Fabbri are my three by the way). I'll set the over/under points at 92 and the number of rookies at 6. What do you guys think?
I do think Fabbri will show enough at center that the Blues will be comfortable playing him there. But whether he stays there could be determined by how much they miss him on the wing and how well the other centers look. So Fabbri could look pretty good there and they still decide to play him on the wing. There are always multiple variables, including who's healthy/injured, that go into these decisions.
That's not a bad play. Which other Blues besides Tarasenko, Schwartz and Fabbri are scoring more than 20?
I'm liking the fleece blanket. Need something to cover up those feet when you're sitting by the fire watching the game.
Yes. I think what Barbashev showed last year, along with his versatility to play wing or center, makes him a good bet to make the roster. I would also think that Berglund's absence enhances his opportunity.
Too many to name, but Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, Dallas Drake, Chris Mason, Ryan Johnson, Bill Guerin, David Perron, David Backes, Cam Janssen, Barret Jackman, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Alexander Steen, Chris Porter, Ryan Reaves and Vladimir Tarasenko to name a few ...
No, it doesn't. Both played too many games last year, as you noted. I set the number a little high to make us all think, but I'm thinking about guys like Schmaltz, Dunn, Walman, Thompson, Kostin ... and with injuries, there are always a couple more that get a chance that we're not counting on.
Ha. I purposely left Schenn off to see what kind of reaction we'd get. He's scored 25 and 26 the past two seasons in Philly, so he's certainly capable of being one of those guys. There will be a transition for him to a new team and perhaps a transition moving back to center. But if you're Doug Armstrong or a Blues fan, you're certainly looking for 20 from Schenn.
They can't because of the change to Adidas. Maybe the following year.
In case anybody missed it, Opilka had another hip surgery and will be out a few months. If he'd stayed healthy, I believe he was going to play in junior this season. We'll have to wait and see what the situation is when he's ready to return, as a lot can change. There could be an injury in the system that opens a door for Opilka in the minors when he's done rehabbing. Or because the hip injury is significant and he's had a couple of them in the last year, they'll just send him back to junior anyway and have him take his time working back slowly.
All of them honestly. From Kitchen to Murray to Payne to Hitchcock to Yeo, they all brought something to the table most days. Every day with Hitch, but he's one of a kind. Hitch is an entertainer and good BSer. Some days you had to distinguish between fact and fiction.
There have been many, but the one that sticks in my head is the week somebody asked me if a specific elevator was up and running again at Scottrade Center. I try to know as much as I can about the Blues, and if I don't know the answer I'll try and find out. But I don't have the building ops guy on speed dial.