Blues chat with Jim Thomas

Blues chat with Jim Thomas

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

    Hello, one and all. How is everybody coping? Hope you're all safe.
    Just one program note. I'm working on a story _ to run Sunday, I believe _ on how Blues fans are coping with no hockey. If you would like to contribute to this story please contact me via email: jthomas@post-dispatch.com. Via email because I may want to reach out and interview you for the story.
    With that, lets get this going.
    Mr. Thomas, I personally think if they can’t get the season stated by April 15th then they should just pull the plug on the whole thing. It’s going to take at least two weeks to get the players back in shape and figure out if the regular season ends there, or is there a mini playoff for teams on the bubble when play ended. They you’ve got four rounds of playoffs… some of which will be played in warm weather cities so there may be quality of ice issues. You’ll have baseball and football starting so there will be competition for viewership there. The Stanley Cup is a different award than say the Lombardi Trophy or the World Series Trophy. If you can’t have legitimate playoffs then best to just end the season and get ready for next year. I know there will be loss of revenue but this is a different situation unlike a union/players work stoppage.
    The league (and its players) stand to lose a lot of money if the regular season and most importantly the playoffs aren't concluded. I've heard estimates of $1 billion (revenue, not profit). Remember, the NHL is much more dependent on ticket sales than other leagues. So I think the league and the players will do everything they can to finish off this season. With that in mind, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that we could go all the way to August before play resumes.
    Happy Hump Day Jim. Thank you for being out there doing these chats.

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I watch game 7 from June 12 over and over and we win every time! But I want to see live games. I would think the NHL will resume the season if at all possible, do you think there is a drop dead date that once its reached the season is over? If this happens at least the Blues will be the reigning Cup champs for one more summer.
    by Barry - Blues Fan Hunkered Down in Orlando 3/25/2020 6:06:22 PM
    I would think we're a ways away from a drop dead date. As I mentioned in the earlier answer, I think the NHL is at least contemplating the possibility of not resuming play until August. If that's truly the case, time is on their side. For now, there have been reports out of the conference calls with the board of governors, and then the GMs on Monday and Tuesday respectively,, that the self-quarantine for NHL players has been pushed back to April 6 from March 27. (I saw one report that said the push back was to April 3.) In any event, the league is still in the pause mode.
    And again, I'm not sure it's an automatic that the Blues keep the Cup if there is no more hockey. Perhaps it's just awarded to the regular-season leader when play stopped _ the Boston Bruins.
    Hi Jim. Mark Cuban although not an NHL owner is taking the under on a June 1st restart of the NBA. He says mid-May as possible. Do you think that the NHL with sharing arena venues would get on board with a plan? Cities, workers, clubs, players all need revenue. Your thoughts? Thanks
    I think that all depends on the numbers we see every time we turn on the TV or look at our phones. You know, number of cases and number of deaths due to the coronavirus. Right now, those numbers are still spiking, and probably will continue to do so for the next couple of weeks _ in part because of more testing. I think a mid-May or June 1 return to hockey (or the NBA for that matter) is optimistic.
    Do you have any tips for surviving the stay at home order?
  • I guess try to get into some kind of routine. I've spent a lot of time in my home office. I'm already getting on my wife's nerves. The key to our soon to be 37-year marriage, I'm convinced, is the fact that I spend a lot of time on the road or away from the house anyway, be it covering the NHL, the NFL or even Mizzou before that! I'm trying to walk the dogs with some regularity, but I fear I may be ready to play nose tackle _ you know, 300-plus pounds _ by the time this is over due to the lack of physical activity.
    Guess there's no chance of resuming play without fans on hand?
    I think that would be a last resort.
    Mr. Thomas, I could be wrong but I thought in a recent statement by Gary Bettman he indicated he didn't want to jeopardize the 2020-21 season starting late. That leads me to believe that we won't have 2019-20 playoffs in August.
    I think what Bettman said was that he didn't want it to jeopardize playing a full 2020-21 season. Some of the players apparently believe that could still happen even with an August re-start of the 2019-20 season.
    Just for the heck of it ... could you take a look at the standings and then predict the Blues' playoff path to the finals OR their elimination. Something as simple as "First round: Blues KO Calgary 4-0" ... Second round: Blues edge Stars 4-3 ... Third round: UPSET. Jets dethrone the champs 4-2". And if you think they make it, predict what happens in the finals. Thanks for the chat!
    Well, if the regular season started now, based on the current standings, I think the Blues would have a tough time getting out of the first round. They would open with Nashville, and if you recall, the Blues went 0-3-1 against the Predators during the regular season.
    What do you think of the simulated games? I watched the Blues/Panthers on Saturday afternoon for five minutes, the announcers never would say the goalie's names when they made saves. I would rather see old playoff series than the simulated games..

    Earlier this week I saw a game 7 2013 playoff game on NBCSN where the Bruins beat the Leafs (and Boom Boom) in overtime. The leafs were up by 2 with 2 minutes to go in regulation and lost. Very exciting. Show Petro this game and he won't want to sign with the "Make Believes"!
    by Barry - Blues Fan Hunkered Down in Orlando 3/25/2020 6:27:20 PM
    I haven't watched a second of the simulated games. Not into that. I have however, watched almost all of the three Blues replays aired so far by Fox Sports Midwest and have found them entertaining. Keep in mind, I'm almost always at the games, so I watch very few of these games on TV over the course of a season _ so they're new to me. But I realize these games may not be so entertaining for fans who have already watched them once.
    Barry, please email me at jthomas@post-dispatch.com. I may want to interview you for the story on how Blues fans are coping with no hockey. 
  • Hi Jim. If you look at the current standings there are only 4 teams in the Western Conference battling for the last two playoff spots and 5 Eastern Conference teams. Two teams have played 68 games and they are both in the Eastern Conference. It seems like those teams could play a mini tournament to see who gets in and still allow full playoffs and maintain a full regular season. I think the NHL Governors want to finish the season. Who can we call? Thanks
    Yeah, I don't know if any kind of mini-tournament has been discussed. I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case. On the other hand, basically 90 percent of the regular season has been played, and the league may think that's enough of a season to seed the playoffs _ going by winning percentage rather than games played because teams have played between 68 and 71 games.
    The Olympics hold a pretty exciting hockey tournament that lasts a little over two weeks. Couldn't that work this year for the NHL?
    Again, wouldn't be surprised if that were the case in terms of being discussed by the league. It probably could work, and be kind of exciting. But I think the NHL would like to have something that was closer to the normal NHL format.
    Do you know how much of the NHL season was lost to the Spanish flu?
    There were only 18 regular-season games played that season, down from the usual 24 played at that time. The Cup Final was cancelled at 5 games, with the series tied at 2-2-1
    Mr. Thomas,

    Is Hugh McGing targeted for San Antonio...er Springfield next year? I saw on CapFriendly that he received a signing bonus of $92,500. Do you know if the player gets that all at once immediately? Ca-ching! Not a bad start to one's hockey career!
    Yes. He's done with college and too old for juniors. So he would be slated for the Springfield (Mass.) Thunderbirds. (Gonna have to get used to that.) And if for some reason he wasn't deemed ready for the AHL, he could always go to the ECHL, which I doubt would be the case. As for the signing bonus, that's negotiated. Sometimes it's a lump sum, sometimes it's in installments, usually no more than 3 installments per year.
    Have you ever eaten poutine?
  • Ate in once at Urban Chestnut's location in the Grove. Very tasty, but obviously not the healthiest choice for chow. Don't think I've ever had it in Canada.
  • Mr. Thomas,

    The KHL canceled their season. Most other professional and high-level amateur leagues already had. I believe that leaves the NHL and AHL as the final holdouts. I want hockey back really badly, but the longer this goes on, the less I can see it happening. Do you think the AHL will pull the plug before the NHL, or are they in it together until the end?
    All the situations are different. The KHL, which starts earlier and ends earlier than the NHL, was about to start the second round of its playoffs. The NCAA had to deal with the fact that we're getting close to the time that the academic year ends. (Although college baseball goes on until June.) In junior hockey, the OHL, WHL and QMJHL would be in the first week of their playoffs this week. As for the AHL, its regular season lasts a week longer than the NHL's. I don't think they'd necessarily be in lockstep with the NHL.
    As far as the NHL is concerned, you can't underestimate the value of trying to maintain that revenue. Now, I firmly believe the NHL isn't going to do anything that puts the fans or their players in jeopardy. But without that revenue the salary cap goes down for next season. And that could affect a lot of teams, such as the Blues who are trying to figure out how to re-sign Pietrangelo
    How big of a fan of the NHL were you when you were covering the NFL?
    To be honest, I probably couldn't have named 50 NHL players (outside of the Blues) when I took over the beat three years ago. I'd watch parts of the occasional Blues game on TV or listen on the radio while in the car. Watch some of the playoffs, both Blues and non-Blues. But when you're covering a beat, it's all-encompassing _ you have tunnel vision. And so now, I'm immersed in hockey, and it's having a similar effect on my NFL knowledge. I remember at last year's NFL draft, I was in the Enterprise Center press box before a Blues playoff game and they had the draft on TV behind us. Well, after the first couple of picks, I'm thinking "Who the heck is that guy, etc." This from a guy who covered about 25 drafts and combines over the years.
    I should also add that I was a teen-ager when the Blues arrived in St. Louis. We were all so into it in south city. Playing street hockey. Going to games.. Watching on TV. They took the city by storm..
    Mr. Thomas,

    Are a lot of the players still in St. Louis? Did the guys from overseas return home? Travel sure seems difficult right now.
    To my knowledge, I think a little more than half the team has stayed in St. Louis. Don't have an idea on the foreign players (and there aren't many with the Blues _ just a few Swedes and a couple Russians.) Most countries are in the self-quarantine mode, right? So If you're from a small town in Canada or Sweden, etc., what are you going to do _ sit in a cabin until this breaks?
    Jim, i would like that they would broadcast old regular season games and not tell you the outcome beforehand and you wouldn't know the date.
    Interesting point. There's some sense to that because in varying degrees our memories are foggier on the games early in the season. Maybe you could provide some teasers in the advertising leading up to the game like _ "you won't believe what happened to Binnington in this one" _ but don't tell us the final score beforehand.. Plus, I wish they would telecast the games in chronological order, which would give you a sense of the flow of the season if you're watching them regularly, which I have been so far.
  • Good afternoon and thank you for the chat. Comparing the 2 commissioners of sports you have covered in depth, is there an area where you feel Gary Betteman outshines Roger Goodell?
    On a lot of topics, Bettman seems a lot more open in his remarks _ not that he's perfect. There were a lot of those NFL state of the league press conferences during Super Bowl week where after an hour's worth of press conference, I'd think, what did Goodell really say? He wasn't that way at the beginning of his regime, but he became a master of talking but not really providing much substance over the years.
    Does the NHL have a rule concerning players using recreational marijuana where it is legal?
    Interesting question. I don't have an answer. Do you think since the players have more time to "recreate" right now that they're blowing more weed these days?
    Mr. Thomas,

    I think I speak for a lot of Blues and Cardinals fans when I say we really appreciate the commitment of the Post-Dispatch and its terrific writers to continuing coverage of our teams under these circumstances. Reading your stories and participating in the chats are a welcome and needed bit of normalcy under terribly abnormal conditions. Mr. Hummel is doing a series of "Where Are They Now?" stories for former Cardinals players. Is there a chance a similar thing could be done with the Blues?
    Thanks for the kind words. It takes more legwork to produce stories under these circumstances than just showing up to the morning skate or game and gathering info, but there are still stories to be had. In addition, we're spacing the appearances of these stories out because in the newspaper at least, we don't have as much space as we do during normal times. Besides the story on how Blues fans are coping without hockey, I'm working on a Blues prospects story. which I think is supposed to run Friday. The Blues had 7 prospects playing junior hockey in either the WHL, OHL or QMJHL this season. How did their season's go? What does the future look like for them? Since the Canadian Hockey League _ the umbrella organization for all three leagues _ announced Tuesday that the playoffs and Memorial Cup have been cancelled their season is over. So I figured the timing was right to do a story of this sort. It's the type of story we probably wouldn't have time for if the Blues were playing games now.
    I do like your "Where are they Now?" idea for the Blues. Anyone in particular you'd like to know about?
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