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 again everybody. Phase 2 starting this week in the NHL, but not in St. Louis. Hope you caught our stories on Erik Foley and Oskar Sundqvist. One year anniversary of Stanley Cup coming Friday. Next Blues "Where are they now?" is scheduled for Thursday on one of the orignal Blues Frank St. Marseille. So what's on your mind today. Let's get to it.
    Why wouldn't the NHL just put the 2019-20 season in the history books and start up the 2020-21 season as already planned -- September camps, October start, playoff next April, etc.? Staging the playoffs in a hub city with no fans is a waste of resources. Just put 2019-20 in the books as is -- "no Cup champion that year because there was a pandemic." Nobody's fan base would be angry/forlorn that their team didn't win the Cup, because it would also mean that no other team won it. Just move on and win next year's!
    Well, money has a lot to do with it. Specifically TV dollars. Cancelling the season would affect owners' bottoms lines as well as the salary cap for players. I also think there's the history of the league factoring in as well. Only twice in over 100 years has there not been a Cup awarded. Once because of the lockout and once because of the Spanish flu in 1918.
    Hey Jim, thanks so much for having the chat!! If the Blues repeat, where does that put them in terms of the other teams in the league, championship wise? Yes, Montreal has 27 cups or something crazy like that.. But, will the Blues be in the conversation with the Pittsburgs, the Chicagos, of being an upper echelon team/franchise? I'd like your thoughts.. I'd like them to 3-Peat, then they are in the Hall of Fame of teams, because that is so rare.. Why not?? They have a wide open window... !!
    The window is open. And I do think the Blues are set up to be legit Cup contenders for the next few years. Don't know if a repeat puts the Blues in the category of the recent Penguins or Blackhawks champsionship teams. I think around the league, just about everyone (outside of Boston) thought the Blues winning the Cup was a fun story, they were happy for the team, its fans and the organization. But I also think there was a sense that _ I don't knnow _ maybe their victory was a little fluky. If they repeat, it will show that 2018-19 was no fluke. But will some still view the Cup winner this season with an asterisk because of the coronavirus pause and the 24-team playoff format? I guess what I'm saying is I think the Blues remain a little underrated in my opinion in the hockey world.
    Hi Mr. Thomas, thank you for chatting once again.

    I enjoyed the Erik Foley story. I’ve been wondering about him for a long time. Given the time he has missed, and his comments, it sounds like his hockey career is over before it started, unfortunately. Next season is the last year of his contract, and I assume he will not get another. According to CapFriendly, he receives a signing bonus of $92,500 each year of the deal. Do you know if he gets that without playing? I suppose he does not get any of the rest of his salary.
    Yes, unfortunately it looks like Foley's career is over. Although I will say that Dallas defenseman Stephen Johns returned this season after missing 22 months with headaches and post-concussion syndrome. As for his contract, yes, he gets his full signing bonus and also gets his salary as an injured player.
    Mr. Thomas,

    As time passes, I find myself tending to agree with Lemay Liberal in regard to cancelling the season. I understand the revenue loss would make that very difficult for the league. I just feel that it would be better to have one messed up season (this one) rather than two (next year if it starts late to accommodate this year's aberrant conclusion). If next year could start on time, and be normal, I would be okay with missing the rest of the 19-20 season. That's a big if, I know.
  • I understand where you're coming from. And I don't think there's any way that the 2020-21 season can start on time _ and depending on how late the NHL gets started this summer perhaps the schedule will be altered for a year or two after that. But imagine if you're a member of the Blues. (Or any other team in the posteason field) You only have so many years of your career. Team-wise, in the salary cap era, windows of opportunity stay open for only so long; if you have confidence in the health and safety measures of a return to play, why would you want to just pass on a chance to win the Cup? In a sense it would seem like a wasted year if the season was just canceled.
    Watched the Game 2 Finals replay Tuesday night, and Tarasenko's goal is sick -- stopped on the shot, he spins as he falls to the ice and whacks in the rebound! Where do you see Vladi in 3 years or 5 years? Still a scoring machine?
    by Daddy Root Beer edited by Mike Smith 6/10/2020 6:34:56 PM
    I did a story earlier during the coronavirus pause on a Blues mural ("Market Street Dream") commissioned to noted sports artist Rick Rush by a St. Louis businessman. One of the featured details on the mural is that amazing goal by Tarasenko. I think Tarasenko is more than capable of keeping up his scoring pace over the next 3 to 5 years. I think you have to be concerned, however, about injuries. He's had 2 shoulder surgeries and a knee procedure over the past three seasons. Is his body starting to wear down? Since both surgeries were on the same shoulder, will that turn into a chronic-type injury?
    Enjoyed your update on Sundqvist! Who are your favorite Blues to interview? Who are the toughest interviews?
  • Steen can be a tough interview because he doesn't suffer fools and he can be very wound up after a loss. (Intense) Schwartz seems to be genuinely media shy. But the vast majority of players are good interviews. I would rank Jake Allen, Vince Dunn high on my list because of their sincerity and honesty. And of course, Jordan Binnington gets high marks because you're never quite sure what he might say.. On the media cooperation scale, I'd give Ryan O'Reilly and Brayden Schenn high marks.
    Who do you think are the top 10 defensemen in the NHL? I'm especially interested in where you think Petro ranks ... or if he even makes your list.
  • I'll handle it this way. I sent in my NHL awards ballot this morning and these were my six all-tars, listed in order:
    John Carlson, Alex Pietrangelo, Roman Josi, Victor Hedman, Cale Makar, Jacob Slavin. Dougie Hamilton certainly would've been on the list has his season not been limited to 40 games due to injury. Again, that's just how I'd rate them this year. Overall, I think Pietrangelo certainly would have to be in the top 10.
    Refunds on playoff tickets: Any kind of timeline for that yet?
    To my knowledge, I don't think playoff invoices were sent out for season-ticket holders.
    Top 3-5 reasons we should be optimistic that we'll see hockey games this summer?
    1.) The league (and it seems like most of the players) want to make this happen.
    2.) It looks like COVID-19 is at least leveling off throughout the nation. (Overall, that is,, and realizing there are still some hot spots).
    3.) The league seems intent on taking a prudent and thorough approach to making sure that players are safe and healhty.
    4.) Phase 2 (small-group workouts) already are undeway; and most of the details to Phase 3 (training camp) and Phase 4 (the postseason workout) have been agreed upon.
    Any word on whether guys who were playing in college earlier this year will be allowed to play in the NHL when the season resumes?
    In your time covering the NHL, are there any plays that stick out that made you surprised that somebody could actually do that?
    Sorry, as sometimes happened, I selected two questions at once. So first, "Sophie's" question on college players. Yet to be decided. The league does not want the players to be eligible to play this season (and this of course affects Perunovich and the Blues). But the NHLPA still has to sign off on this.
    As to "Freddie's" question on amazing plays that have stuck out to me, I'd say something like that happens just about every night. A goalie doing the splits. A Robert Thomas pass. I remember one of my first practices (at the Mills) on the beat in 2017, I was sitting right behind one of the goals and saw a shot coming off Tarasenko's stick. I was like "Wow!"
    Mr. Thomas

    No fans in the stands means no AHL hockey next fall. If that happens, and the NHL season is on, where are prospects going to play? I think if European leagues are up and running, many veteran players who might have been in the minors here will head over there. What will that mean for NHL teams who want/need a veteran for a temporary call-up?
    I think this could be a real issue, although I don't think it's front burner right now with the NHL as they try to get their own ship in order. Perhaps NHL teams can have larger rosters _ like a taxi squad. But that's only going to help so much if the prospects can't get in games.
    I have heard that some owners are in favor of starting seasons on January first and ending the finals in August. The thought is that they will try this next season, and if they like it, keep it that way. What are your thoughts?
    I don't see why that's a good idea. So you start in January, right when the football playoffs are in full bloom and you overlap with baseball for two extra months in the summer. Plus, a lot of people like to be outdoors in the summer, or vacationing. I wonder what that would do to the TV ratings.
    What are your thoughts on Bouwmeester being nominated for the Masterton Memorial Trophy
    Well, he got my top vote for the Masterton, which I sent in earlier this week. (It's a separate ballot than the other NHL awards.) And you vote for 3 finalists, ranking them 1, 2, and 3. I think he's very deserving. And irrespective of his life threatening cardiac arrest in Anaheim. He was our St. Louis nominee last year as well. It would be a fitting cap to an outstanding career.
    Do you know if the Blues want Parayko to be more physical, or are they happy with the way that he is playing now?
    Of course, they want him to be more physical. That's basically a prerequisite to playing for Berube. And I think Parayko did get more physical last year, although I'm sure the Blues would like him to turn it up another notch.
    Is it true that there were cats who lived at the old Arena that were kept there to catch rodents?
    Yes. I think I might have seen one or two while covering basketball games there in past years. (MVC tourney, Busch Braggin' Rights.) On a related note, at an MVC game at the Arena, there was a player at the free-throw line who got buzzed by a flying pigeon during the game.
    Hey Jim.. Your thoughts on something I heard on sports radio.. About signing Petro to a long term contract as he's your best defenseman, he's top tier, so you make it work. The commentators said Paryko is nowhere near what Petro is in terms of 'doing it all' on the ice.. Offensive skill, defensive skill, quarterbacking the power play, intangibles.. I was stunned. I love Petro, but I think Paryko, 26, 27 y/o, is the best young defenseman in the league. He has every skill in the book. He's a top tier skater, puck handler, shot, and is a completely shut down defenseman... They spoke as if he 'could be' top tier down the road, a few years, etc.. I think Parayko, being a very low key guy, humble, and he doesn't play Prongers physical game, he's seen as somehow the 'next tier down.' I don't know, if I were building the team from the ground up, at least on the defensive side of the puck, I'm not sure what other defenseman I start with... Parayko, I think, if he was the #1 guy here, would have 50+ points every year, and quarterback the power play.. No question.... Thoughts?
    Which commenators said that? I agree that Pietrangelo is the better player overall but Parayko is a still-ascending player. Parayko has a harder shot and is a faster skater than Pietrangeo. Pietrangelo has better instincts I think, and is a better passer. They're both very good defensively, although their defensive styles are different. And I agree with your point that Parayko has the potential to be a 50-point guy if he got steady time on the power play, especially if it were on the No. 1 unit.
    Hey Jim, since all of the teams will be rested and as healthy as they can be heading into the playoffs do you think that puts the Blues at a slight disadvantage based on their style of play? We just won a cup by wearing teams down through each series. Just feel like this gives the Lightning, and Avalanches for example the advantage based on their speed and ability to score without having to worry about being wore down.
  • In general, I agree with you. One of the Blues' greatest assets is their depth, and depth pays off the most over the long haul. If/when hockey returns, there really won't be a long haul. Another Blues strength as you point it, is their physical, grinding style of play. Since all these teams will have had about 4 months off or so, it will take a lot of grinding and pounding to wear the opponents down over such a compressed tie span.
    Do you have any thoughts on the Dustin Byfuglien saga, and where it goes from here?
    Has it been established that he even wants to play? And if the aswser is "yes," how much does he have left at age 35 and coming off ankle surgery.
    Is Armstrong up for an award this year
    I think he should be a strong candidate, once again, for the GM of the year award. (But that's not an award that the Pro Hockey Writers vote on.)
    Well Jim--- We'll just have to '3--PEAT' and show the league this team, this organization, is top tier. No fluke here, sir..... I think part of the 'under appreciating' is that the Blues do not have stars.. Tarasenko is a dynamic scorer, but he is not Ovechcin, or McKinnon, McDavid.. He scores 70 points a year, not 100+.... I think somehow that equates to the Blues being 'lucky' or it's a fluke.. When it's really about them having 9 + players deep who can play a solid all around game-- score, defense, etc.. It ain't sexy, but it's a team.. Which I think is more interesting than the superstar leading the team to a championship...
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