Blues chat with Jeremy Rutherford

Blues chat with Jeremy Rutherford

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




    Thanks to everyone who is joining me today. I'm sure a lot of Blues fans are still in the dumps, but as we have every offseason, we like to keep up the chats because there's just as much (if not more) to talk about. So let's get to it .... let's get chattin'
    Who has better odds to be back next year? hitch or oshie/backes?
    My guess would be Hitch. I think there's a real strong chance. As I wrote in the paper this week, Armstrong isn't a guy who makes change for change sake. If he can hire a better coach, or one he thinks will work better with the team, then he'll make the switch. But if the available coaches have other options that they'll take, or the guy Armstrong would like isn't currently available, which I could see being the case, then I think Hitch will come back. As far as the players, specifically the ones you mentioned, I think they're all fair game this offseason. I think there's no guarantee Backes will be back. He's a guy with one more year left on his contract who will be looking for a big deal this time around. With that much wear on tear on him, is he a guy the Blues want to commit to long-term. With Oshie, the rumors have been there for years. I think if the right deal came along, the Blues wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger.
    Where do you think Babcock lands?
    I think either Toronto or he goes back to Detroit.
    JR - in Strauss' article, he had a quote from Mr. Stillman that read something like "the financial situation has calmed/pressure has eased" or something to that effect. Do you know if the Blues found new revenue streams or improved on the current ones, etc.? It seems like costs went up (spent to the cap) and we had another first round exit, so something had to change to make him say that correct?
    I don't have the exact quote you're talking about, but I know what you're referring to. The Blues have created new revenue streams the past couple of years and have enhanced some of the ones they've had all along. Another factor, which Stillman has discussed a few times, is the fact that they don't "count on" playoff revenue maybe like you would expect. In other words, they have created a budget in which they don't make or break themselves based on the length of their playoff run.
    Since Tippet is under contract, how would the Blues be able to acquire him?
    Tippett is a guy to keep in mind, maybe not this offseason but in the future. Armstrong hired him in Dallas and really respects him. He has three years left on his five-year deal in Arizona, but there has been speculation that Tippett is re-thinking his situation there and might (I stress might) have some type of out clause in the deal. If that were the case and he could get out of his contract, I think Army and the Blues would have interest.
    Do you think (with the current mix of players - assuming some changes are coming of course) that Hitch's game works well with the players and vice-versa? Or is a different type of approach to the game more suited for the talent? Is it more important to build the strategy around the players or bring in players that fit the strategy?
    We could debate this for hours. Is Hitch's system a successful one? Yes. Do the players love it? No. Would they enjoy or even thrive more in a different system? Perhaps. We can only deal in fact and reality, and what I mean by that is this: Hitch is the coach. If he stays the coach, the system isn't going to change. (It may be further tweaked but it isn't changing). I don't think the Blues are going to go find a bunch of players who better fit this system. How long will Hitch be here? If they decide to bring in a new coach, we don't know what that system would be. To answer your last question - do you build around the players or the system? - you have to somehow move forward with whatever you have. If Hitch is the coach, then the team that the Blues come back with in September has to be ready to play his style.
    When are we likely to find out about Tarasenko's contract? Is that part of the reason why Armstrong's at the Worlds?
    This probably won't be addressed for a while. Tarasenko's agent, Mike Liut, told me that he didn't have plans to meet with Army at the World Championships. Their next face-to-face opportunity would likely be the NHL draft combine.
    Does Babcock even get a call from Army? Could hitch be plan B if they cant land Babcock, going on the theory of who out there is better?
    Army could have already met with Babcock and we don't know it. They're both in the Czech Republic and they do have a pre-existing relationship with Team Canada. Babcock seems to be listening to anybody (Toronto, Buffalo, etc.), so why wouldn't he listen to the Blues' pitch. The question is whether he would truly consider coming to St. Louis and would the Blues be able to afford him ($5 million per)?
    Have you ever suspected that the Blues have "used" you to get certain information disseminated to the public or other media-types in an effort to "control" or put a certain "spin" on what they feel the Blues may be working on? (such as interest in Mike Babcock) If so, how do you balance that with the need for fairness, truth and objectivity to your readers and the absolute need to be impartial?
    Not sure how I can best answer that, but here goes: I am an honest person without an agenda. I try to look at things as squarely and fairly as possible. I hope that the Blues (Stillman, Armstrong, coaches, players, etc.), look at me the same. Over the years, have the Blues, including past regimes, tried to use me? Sure. Part of your growth process as a beatwriter is learning who you can trust and what information you can trust. If somebody burns you, then you know who can trust. I can say that I've never written something that I knew was not true because somebody wanted to get the message out. I may not be as skeptical or vindictive as some fans (and other media) would like. But I go about my job the way I do, and I hope the work I've done has been as fair and accurate as possible.
    Does the ice at STC have a bad reputation among the players? Sometimes I get that impression.
    For those not into initials, the question is about Scottrade Center. I don't get that impression. Many of the rinks are the same these days. I don't think to many players think any differently about Scottrade than they do other rinks.
    It doesn't seem that Hitch and youth go to well in the same sentence. If the Blues let go of Jackman, and Michalak in order to sign Tarasenko. how convinced is management that an infuux of Bortuzzo, Lindbohm. Parayko. Edmundson etc works with Shaw and Hitch and not better with a younger coach or new assistants?
    It may not seem like Hitch likes youth and certainly he doesn't want 15 players with two years of experience. But believe me, if Hitch had a lineup with Bortuzzo and Lindbohm, Jaskin and maybe Fabbri, he would not be disappointed. I understand the perception that he may not crave young players. I can tell you he wants good players, and he feels that those players are better than some of the ones that the Blues have suited up, including this year. So why didn't he play them? I don't know the answer. Loyalty? I don't know.
    JR, enjoy the chats. Is there any thought by the Blues to acquiring/moving AHL team to a place like KC? Since they have that beautiful building with no main tenant and a lot of ties to StL, it seems like a no-brainer to up regional interest in hockey. Chicago arrangement just doesn't make a lot of sense to me, particularly since Blues don't fully control the team/players/coaches. Curious to me they took a step backward in that regard for a team that will be needing to replenish from within with the ever-escalating NHL salaries. Seems Blues should be borrowing more pages from the Cardinals on player-development. Thoughts?
    Is KC in the market for an AHL team? I know they want an NHL team. Chicago has been OK for the Blues. The Wolves are a good franchise, even though they haven't had a lot of success lately. It's not perfect, you're right, as the Wolves call the shots. For now, the convenience of the situation (close to St. Louis) and the low costs (not subsidizing the organization) or plusses. Remember, Stillman's group had just purchased the Blues and was watching its checkbook when the move was made from Peoria to Chicago. I could see down the road, if Blues became even more strong financially, them getting back into owning their franchise.
    Hey JR. Thanks for keeping the chats going. Who's you're pick now that we're down to 4 teams left in the playoffs? Based on what we've seen so far do you think the Blues could have won if they got past Minnesota?
    It's a tough field with the Rangers, Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Chicago. Wow, I like them all. If I had to pick, I'd go with Tampa in the East. In the West, gosh. I like Anaheim, but I've learned to never bet against Chicago, so I'll go with the Hawks. Don't send me hate mail, but I think Chicago could win it all again. I know they have some issues with their third defensive pair, but they can probably overcome that. ... Could the Blues have gotten by the Blackhawks? There's no way, with what I watched in Round 1, that would suggest to me they could have beaten the Hawks. Nothing.
    People are writing stories about the NHL being a "small man's league" now. Are the Blues too big/ slow to compete with the majority of teams? Can the org afford to reshape their team to match trends?
    People have been saying that since the lockout in 2005 ended. It's a league in which good players win: small, big, whatever. Getzlaf and Perry aren't small. Rick Nash isn't small. The Blues could use some more speed yes, but they're not guaranteed to go any further by getting smaller.
    Regarding the idea that Hitch is safe unless Army sees his replacement currently available: Is there really no one out there that Army likes? I can't remember a time when so many elite head coaches were available at once. It's not like Hitch is going to stay for another five years, so why not pull the trigger now as opposed to next season, when you don't know who will be available?
    Who do you like? Bylsma? Caryle? MacLean? Why bring somebody like that in if they don't make you better? So you can fire them in 2-3 years? If Babcock doesn't want to come to St. Louis or the Blues can't afford him, and Army thinks Hitch is the best fit FOR NOW, why not keep him. Like I said earlier, what if you stick it out with Hitch for one more year and then a guy like Tippett is available in 1-2 years. I'm not saying Tippett is a savior or deserves such consideration, I'm just saying 'What if?' Also, you don't know who else will be available in 1-2-3 years. But if you bring in somebody just to bring in somebody, you could be making two changes in the next 2-3 years.
    How can the Blues sell the fans on another year of Hitchcock/Armstrong? Is Stillman worried about a drop in attendance?
    Army isn't going anywhere this offseason, so forget about that. We've addressed the coaching situation to death. After the decision on the coach, the question will be what the Blues can do with the roster. We don't know the answer to that yet. Would hiring Carlyle and trading two players boost attendance. I don't think so, maybe 20 more people buy season tickets, who knows? But are those the right moves? Do you find yourself back in the same situation soon? I think fans are going to come out or not come out based on how well the team plays. If Hitch comes back, and there's two new forwards on the roster, and the team plays well, the crowd will likely respond. I honestly don't think Stillman is looking to make any decisions based on what he thinks the crowds will look like in October. They're going to make decisions based on what they think makes the team better.
    I guess I missed it but why is Hitch the only one in the organization (non-player) who is on the "hot seat"? GM put this team together....has there been any talk about getting rid of him? (essentially signing up for a new head coach as well)
    Armstrong is facing increased scrutiny and he will continue to. However, Stillman, as I've mentioned countless times, has the utmost trust in Armstrong. Can that change? Of course. But in my conversations with Stillman the past year or two, he has expressed nothing but trust in Army to get the job done. Stillman obviously has a little more patience than most fans and is willing to let Armstrong do his job. But again, for those who see that as a free pass and no accountability, I'm not saying that Stillman's feelings couldn't change if the franchise fails to produce.
    Have you spoken to any of the players in the last couple of weeks? It seems like they all slunk out of town (or at least the limelight) as soon as they ripped out the fans' collective hearts and cleaned out their lockers. . . Army is at Worlds, Hitch isn't talking, so the fans are left with silence. Not a good way to encourage a fan base!
    I have not. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the couple of weeks following a playoff exit are pretty quiet, as everyone licks their wounds. Obviously somebody like me has a job to do and stories to write. I've spoken with many people in the organization, as I try to keep a pulse for the situation. But it's just not a time where many people care to comment because decisions are being made behind the scenes. Why say something that might change in a week? The situation has to play itself out before people are ready to talk.
    why does 90 percent of anybody considered for any job have to come from hitch and armies time in dallas? Maybe the fans are tired of dallas's sloppy 2nds and 3rds for that matter
    First of all, you see that with a lot of organizations. How many people did Cardinals manager Tony La Russa bring from Oakland, Rams coach Dick Vermeil from Philadelphia. Coaches hire people they've worked with and trust. As far as the Blues bringing in Dallas guys, who are you referring to .... Bob Gainey, Steve Ott? I don't know that there's an inordinate amount.
    JR. After watching the Blues again this year in the playoffs I feel they need a quality leader. The best teams over the years had a leader that carried the team. Messier, Yzerman, Brodeur, and recently Toews. Is there a player like that the Blues can make a move for? This has the talent but not enough heart to put everything on the line.
    I have to agree. I think some of the Blues leaders are good players. Before I go any further, you have to keep in mind that those types of guys you mentioned are generational guys who transcend the sport, so they don't come around often. If you don't draft them (Detroit: Yzerman, Chicago: Toews), they're hard to find. But the Blues, despite having good players, don't seem to have a guy like that on their roster right now. Tarasenko is a rare talent, but is he an Yzerman as far as willing a team to win? I don't see that now, but he's still young. It's something the Blues are going to need moving forward, but where they get it from, I don't know.
    is there another team in the entire NHL that incessantly tinkered with their top three lines the way the blues did in 14/15?
    Your opinion of Sobotka? It seems Army is willing to re-explore that road again.
    Even if Hitch stays, do you some of the associate or assistant coaches being replaced? Shaw and others have been with the Blues a really long time. Maybe it's their message that's getting old??
    Based on his size and skillset, if Fabbri makes the team or plays a few try-out games, he won't be relegated to anything less than third line duties, will he?
    You have shared with us that former Blues' goalie, Mike Liut, is Vladimir Tarasenko's agent. I continue to hear that Tarasenko also may have a second agent-this one a Russian agent (perhaps similar to what the Blues dealt with last year with Sobotka). If Tarasenko has 2 agents, do the Blues have to deal or satisfy both agents or only Mike Liut?
    JR, thanks for the chat. Hey I was wondering how come when we started seeing Allen falter in game 5 why didn't we go to Elliott and have the tandem goal tending we did all year. Usually when we do that the next goal tender up plays awesome for the next few games. A second thought, Is the league ever going to get serious on hits to the head? Longer suspensions first time 5 games second time 15 games and so on? As a fan I like to see the best players/team compete. It just seems to me for example the blackhawks in this years playoffs, their way to win is. Knock one of the best players out each round so they can get to the next round. thanks.
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