Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

Bring your questions and comments about the Stanley Cup champion Blues and the NHL, and talk to Post-Dispatch hockey writer Tom Timmermann in a live chat starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

    Greetings and welcome to a chat that will probably take on a different shape than we would have thought 24 hours ago.. There are a few questions waiting already, so I'll dive in to those to address the pressing issues at hand.
    The Blues should be landing any minute now in Las Vegas and Doug Armstrong is scheduled to give an update on Bouwmeester's condition at 1:30 Vegas time, 3:30 Central time, usually around the time this chat is winding down. If we're still going, and if the Blues are on time, I'll take a break there to see what the update is and then come back if there are any further questions after that.
    We don't have an update since last night, when the Blues said that Bouwmeester was conscious, alert and moving his extremities. But that's the big thing. 
    Jim Thomas is on hand in Las Vegas and will be providing updates. Again, the team is scheduled to be landing around now. They were supposed to fly last night and have a practice there at noon Vegas time (2 St. Louis time) but I don't know if that's going to happen or not. The schedule, needless, to say, has been jumbled a bit.
    thie will seem like a throwaway question after the events of last night, but curious how finding what I assume is 30+ hotel rooms for the night happens when the team was scheduled to fly out to vegas after the game. does team have a traveling secretary at all times on the road? I assume the cba has a provision that the hotels have to be a certain standard (4 or 5 star), so what occurs at such a late hour if number and quality of rooms cant be found? do all needed rooms have to be at same hotel?
    I believe the Blues ended up at the same hotel they had been at the night before. They do have a traveling secretary -- in hockey, it's a director of team services -- with them, and since NHL teams get late check outs at their hotels, around 4 p.m., and it was the midweek, the rooms were probably still available. There are standards they have to meet, though in a case like this, I'm sure they players would cut them some slack. They try to keep everyone in the same place for convenience sake, though a few years ago when the Blues were playing San Jose in the playoffs, there was a shortage of rooms in San Jose -- I know I stayed about 20 miles away -- and the Blues party was in three different hotels. Ironically, the hotel the Blues usually stay at on the Anaheim trip is across the street from the hospital they took Bouwmeester too, but they were at a different hotel this time.
    Tom, is it logical to bring in Mikkola now that JayBo is going to be out for a while or will Bortuzzo get more playing time now? I’d hate to bring the kid back up just to have him sit.
    I would imagine they would call up Mikkola, since he looked good last time and he's left-handed, like Bouwmeester. I just checked the AHL transaction wire and there hasn't been a move; it's quite possible the Blues figure they can get through the Vegas game and have Mikkola join them there. I would imagine they would go with the six D they currently have getting the ice time, unless they felt the need to balance out left and right handed shots. With the schedule the Blues have coming up (including five games in seven days starting Saturday), and the real potential to have to play a seventh defenseman, Mikkola would get the call, even though he may end up sitting.
    During the current downturn, a lack of scoring seems more central to the team struggling to win than a lack of performance. Jordan Kyrou is the one guy on the roster who could add immediate scoring punch to the lineup, but he's also the guy Chief seems to trust the least. I doubt Army is going to tell Berube who to play, so does Chief's lack of trust in Kyrou make it more likely that Armstrong has to go out and get a veteran to help boost the team's flailing offense?
    I'm increasingly inclined to think Armstrong will make a move, though for that to happen, they have to settle on Tarasenko not being back in the regular season. I don't think Berube sees Kyrou right now as someone he can plug into the top six and get goals. I think Sundqvist, when healthy, or Blais are better fits there for that sixth spot at the moment. Now, would Kreider be a step up over both of them? Yes, though at what cost? The Blues like Kyrou. Berube likes Kyrou. It sounds like they'll like him even more next season. 
    Kyrou had a play in that game before he got scratched where he was not very aggressive pursuing a puck in the corner. That's not going to play with Berube, but it's also something that is easily fixed. You go to the corner. Armstrong sees the same game Berube does, and if Berube doesn't like something, odds are Armstrong doesn't like it either. 
    For the make-up game, do they start the game over or do they pick it back up 1-1 with 7:50 left in the game
    Have to wait to hear from the league on this. On one of the previous times this happened, they kept the score at the time of the interruption but played the full 60 minutes. With the game being tied at the time, that makes that a simple decision, to just play the full 60.
    The challenge will be when they do it. It's not just a road game for the Blues, but a road game four hours away. The Blues don't have more than two consecutive off days the rest of the season, so to fit it in would require the Blues to have it as part of a back to back, and that would be one nasty back to back, with a four-hour flight between games. I think what they might do is schedule the game for the day after the last day of the season, Sunday, April 5. The Blues are in Colorado the day before. And if the game doesn't matter for playoff purposes, they could just call it off. 
    I would expect we could hear from the league on that today. 
    It seems like the occurrence of last night could be a real watershed for the Blues this year. I see it going one of two ways: either they are deflated by it or they are inspired to win another cup for Jay Bo. I think it will be the latter. What do you think? Thanks, Tom.
    I talked about this with Jeff and Jim on our podcast today. I really have no idea. They could go out and say let's win this one for Bo or they could play like they lost their best friend. I think, as long as the news on Bouwmeester continues to be good, they'll put it behind them fairly soon and it will be just another injury. But in the short term, I think it will hit a lot of players differently. Someone like Pietrangelo or Parayko, who have played with Bouwmeester for a long time, might handle it differently than a newcomer like Faulk.
    Is there any chance that you or Jim could interview Ray Barile about last night? Clearly, the Blues are trying to manage the flow of information, but I think it would be interesting to hear about the training and skills of the personnel on-site last night. They seem to have saved the day. There are conflicting reports about whether CPR was used, and learning the truth may encourage other people to get CPR training. Between this incident, and the heroism of your colleague Derrick Goold last year, readers of this site should all be trained in CPR.
    Historically, the Blues have had staffers like Barile off limits to reporters. I say hi to Ray in the hallways but that's about it. It would be great to talk to him about it, but I think Armstrong will be speaking for the club. Chris Kerber said the defibrillator was used, and teams are required to have one on the bench now.
    CPR training is big, because what if Bouwmeester had had this happen someplace else? In his hotel room? At his house? At dinner? I missed the media CPR training session we had a few weeks ago sponsored by the BBWAA, though I have been CPR certified in the past and know what to do. But a refresher course would be a good thing, and I recommend it to all, because you never know when you might need it and the difference really is a matter of life and death. 
    Hi Tom. A lot of prayers were answered last night. Hockey isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. I hope Bo takes time to spend the rest of his life with his family. A great teammate and person.
    That will be one of the factors in this. Even if Bouwmeester gets a clean bill of health and is allowed to return to play, is one more season worth it to him? Though we don't know if this is an isolated incident or something else.
    I’m relieved the situation with Bouwmester is not more serious than it looked, although it most definitely will affect the rest of his season and maybe beyond at 36 years of age. That being said how does Armstrong approach the trade deadline now? I think Mikkola could step right in based on his previous performance. I’m more concerned about our scoring. I know last year Armstrong didn’t want to make any trades out of fear of disrupting the chemistry. I don’t think he has to worry about that this year. I think the team needs some sort of jolt, like Binner gave them last year. At this point you can’t count on Tarasenko. Even if he was ready to play in April, he’s not going to be game ready. One good hit in the playoffs and he could be out the first part of next season. Shut him down and let him get 100% healed. What are your thoughts and what area of the team would you like to see strengthened?
    One thing that has probably changed is the Blues ability to trade a veteran defenseman. If you thought the Blues would put Gunnarsson or Bortuzzo in a package, that would seem gone, though teams usually want players with no years left on their contract in trades. I think with the six they currently have, plus Mikkola, they don't need to add to their D, even though the team needs to go back to allowing two goals a game rather than three. 
    I don't know if I'm in the shut Tarasenko down school yet. What he may lack in fitness he'll make up for in knowing the drill and fitting in Schwartz and Schenn. 
    Besides Kreider any other fits available for top 6? Do Blues look for another D-Man pending Bo's situation?
  • I answered part of this in the previous question. I don't think they need to add a D, unless they were concerned about wanting a proven left-handed shooting defenseman rather than playing Mikkola or playing a righty on his off side. 
    Besides Kreider, there's Jean-Gabriel Pageau with Ottawa, Tyler Toffoli of Los Angeles, Andreas Athanasiou of Detroit (who I'd be against for spelling reasons) and, well, Ilya Kovalchuk. 
    If they wanted a left defenseman, Alec Martinez of Los Angeles is thought to be on the market. He has a year to go on his contract at $4 million, so that would require some thinking about going forward. 
  • TT - Thanks for the chat under less than ideal circumstances. I looked at the Blues' schedule (but not Anaheim's), and I agree that the day after the last day of the season might be their only option. How much say does Anaheim have whether that game gets played or not - assuming it's meaningless in the standings? They are not a wealthy team so I can see their not being inclined to refund tickets for a home game.
    I think if the league tells them to play it, they have to play it. I looked at Anaheim's schedule and they don't match up very well though Anaheim does have more gaps in its schedule than the Blues do. There are scenarios where the game could have significance for the Ducks, such as in determining their lottery odds. I suppose there could be a scenario where the game doesn't matter to the Blues but did have an impact on the Ducks, and the Blues would say forget, just give them the two points, and the Ducks would say, We don't want the two points! The Cardinals had a situation like this several years go where they had to fly to Florida for a makeup game and the Marlins had in all likelihood given up all hope by then but had to play it. I think that game was played in less than two hours.
    Why do the Blues seem to constantly scrambling trying keep the affiliate teams? Surely this hurts development and cohesion with coaching strategy. Why would they end up with the Chicago Wolves - didn't they "discard" them a few years ago?
    These are the things that happen when you don't own your own farm team, which the Blues haven't since they sold Peoria. On the other hand, you don't watch as much money go out the door when you don't own your own farm team. They are not money makers. Had the Kansas City group come through a few years back and started a team, that would have had the potential for a long term relationship since each could see the benefits of sticking together on a marketing front.
    I'm sure the Blues would choose just about any other team before Chicago, since they didn't end on the best of terms last time, but they may not have a choice. There are 31 NHL teams and 31 AHL teams, and everybody will get somebody. One problem will be that if the Blues and Chicago don't end up together, the Blues farm team won't be in the Midwest, unless someone breaks up their current relationship to sign on with the Blues. Having a team in San Antonio or Chicago was far better than having a team, say, in Utica, which I'm sure is a fine city but can't be as easy to get to. 
    Since Chicago is the team that will be open when Vegas abandons them, they're the leader in the clubhouse right now, but all it would take is one team saying, you know, Chicago looks good, and the dominoes will start falling. Chicago does have some appeal. If you're a free agent and looking at a minor-league deal, being in Chicago has to be more appealing than being in Binghampton or Utica or Belleville or Modesto, or someplace like that. 
     
    I know it probably isn't feasible due to the finances, but I really wish the Blues could either buy an AHL team and move it to KC, or just start their own team in KC. The switching affiliates every two years is annoying and puts them in a bind when the team gets bought or makes another deal without them.
    Yeah, finances are going to be the hangup here. Even with their recent success, the Blues don't have deep pockets and aren't going to have deep pockets like other teams do. Some teams can take the financial hit better than the Blues can. And the AHL expansion fee is something like $6 million, so that's a big fee to get started. 
    Kansas City would have been ideal, close enough for rabid fans to make a weekend trip when the Blues are out of town and check on the next generation. If they're home, even if you can't get a flight, you're a reasonable drive away if you're calling someone up.
    Welcome to all of those who have joined us in progress. If you've got questions, bring them. A reminder that the Blues have said Doug Armstrong will have a Jay Bouwmeester update at about 3:30 Central time.
    I watched the Battlehawks game over the weekend and was intrigued by some of the changes the league adopted, like being able to listen to the play calls, how penalties are viewed and relayed to the ref. Is anything like this being tested in any of the lower leagues to make the game more interesting for the fans? I’d like to have the ref’s and linesmen mic’d up all game to hear what happens on the ice and their explanations for some of the calls that are made. I know they don’t all talk like choir boys so someone would need their finger on the dump button. Are there any new innovations (mic’s in helmets, i.e.) you’d like to see the NHL try?
    Someone made the joke the other day that while other leagues consider bold moves, the NHL's idea of that is starting the playoffs on Tuesday rather than Wednesday. The last big move the NHL tested in the AHL was going to 3 on 3 for overtime. That's about it. 
    Refs are miked at many games, and I haven't seen that being anything great unless Wes McAuley is on the game. I was talking to a TV person a while ago who was saying that miking players is often more trouble than it's worth because you don't get great stuff and you have to dedicate generally a camera and a sound guy to be following the miked player. I would love to have heard Steve Ott back in the day, but his most hilarious stuff probably wouldn't be aired, not because it was obscene, but because they would have felt it too embarrassing to the other player.
    What I'd like to see is a player not be offside if his skate is above the blueline, even if he's not touching it. That would simplify things. 
    Anything happen before the incident that could have caused the cardiac event last night? Hit by puck, checked hard, etc?
    Fox Sports Midwest aired Bouwmeester's last shift, and I couldn't see anything in it. He goes off camera a time or two, but it's unlikely anything happened at those points since the puck was someplace else. He has minimal contact with the Ducks; there's one bit of contact behind the net, but Bouwmeester seems to doing the hitting rather than getting hit and it wasn't anything hard in any case. It was practically incidental contact. There's nothing like the puck Pronger took to his chest that led to his collapse. The NHL didn't post a full stats package from the game, but it didn't look to be an unusually long shift either. All part of the mystery of what happened. The one thing we can't see is when he leaves the ice and goes to the bench, but there's no reason to think something happened then.
    What is your read on how willing the Blues would be to play the salary cap game with Tarasenko coming back? If they think he could get back up to speed quickly in the playoffs or in practices only during the regular season, it seems like a no brainer to shut him down until then. If they think he will need regular season games to get up to speed, it does become riskier. With as short as the NHL preseason is, I wouldn't think it would take him too long, especially with all of the practices he could potentially get in prior to the playoffs starting.
    Armstrong had this situation a few years back -- who forget who as I type at the moment -- and he didn't do it. So that's one bit of evidence we have. This may be a different situation, since the Blues have moved into being a definite Stanley Cup caliber team rather than a team aspiring to a Stanley Cup. I think Armstrong and Berube both feel that if Tarasenko is going to play in the playoffs, they would like to have him get games in before the playoffs if possible. Having Tarasenko make his return to action after five months off in a first-round series with Dallas or Colorado, or even the fifth place team in the Pacific, may not be what they want. One of the things on this is, no matter how many games he gets, and even if the Blues go to the Stanley Cup Final and are playing until June, at no point in that time would I expect Tarasenko to be 100 percent. He won't be 100 percent until sometime next season. That, of course, raises the question of, do you want Tarasenko at 70 percent or someone else at 100 (or 80 or 90, since NHL players will tell you no one is 100 percent in April). I do have the feeling that if the Blues are fighting for something in April and they're doing it with Tarasenko intentionally being held out, they won't feel good about that. The problem is, the Blues have to make a decision in the next two weeks based on something they can't possibly know.
    By the way, this is just me being suspicious, but I wonder if Armstrong had Tarasenko practice with the team one day to make them look less desperately in need of a forward and help their bargaining position in any possible trade.
    One other thing on the trade front: If the Blues don't deal for Kreider, he could end up in Colorado. That could also factor into their thinking, though in the long term, that might be a bidding war the Blues might not mind losing. 
  • In baseball i believe as long as 5 1/2 innings are played, its an official game. Any rule like that in NHL? Or is the game not over until there is a winner at the end of regulation or OT?
    4 1/2 innings in baseball, if the home team is winning. If not, they need five.
    There is a hockey rule on this, but I just looked for it and couldn't find it and the rulebook is loading too slowly at the moment. I think it's more than half, and nowadays there's no provision for a game ending in a tie, so if the game was had that situation happen in the third period, they'd have to do something.
    If someone out knows the answer, pass it along. 
    The change you mention about the skate being over the blue line and not necessarily on the ice needs to be implemented NOW. That makes total sense and would greatly speed up the replays for it. It is so much easier to check if it is just over the line as opposed to trying to figure out if it is on the ice as well.
    I'm guessing that rule existed to make it easier for the linesman to make the call, but other than that, I don't know what the rationale would be. Even with replay, offside is a tricky call and, like tag plays on the bases in baseball, the existence of replay has led to calls that you never would have seen before because you have no choice but to enforce the letter of the law. I can't tell you how mad I get in -- well, I probably could -- when someone sliding into second has their foot come off the bad for a tenth of a second and gets called out. For the history of baseball, that person was safe. Now, they're out.
    Tom, do you know what tv channel/s the Bowmeeester press conference will be on?
    According to the Blues, it will be aired on their Twitter feed, Facebook and Youtube channels. I haven't heard anything about Fox Sports Midwest carrying it. I would expect to hear Jim Thomas asking a lot of questions.
    Some date questions:

    When is the trade deadline again?
    Has a date been determined for the Seattle Expansion draft yet?
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