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.

    Hi everybody. It's Wednesday, and I know that because there's a chat today. Welcome one and all.
    Hi Mr. Timmermann and thanks to you and Mr. Thomas for helping keep some sense of normalcy during these crazy days. With the complete understanding that almost any and everything discussed in and around sports right now is speculative at best, would you say you have any sense of how seriously St. Louis is being considered as a hub should the NHL decide to go the one city per division route?
    Believe me, this provides me some sense of normalcy too. 
    I think St. Louis would not be at the top of the list. Minnesota and Winnipeg I think would be more likely candidates. Smaller cities (St. Paul in the case of Minnesota), closer hotels to the rink would work in their favor. The multiple rinks at Centene would be an asset for practice purposes, since I don't think you want to have seven teams going an hour at a time at Enterprise. Some team would end up practicing at 5 p.m. The other places seem to make more sense to me.  
    But that's just me theorizing. I would think St. Louis would be ahead of places like Chicago and Dallas. 
    Should fans be worried about Pietrangelo leaving via free agency?
    His departure certainly can't be ruled out. Pietrangelo will take a very business-like approach to this situation. If there's a good offer from another team, better than any offer he's getting from the Blues, he'll take it. What those offers look like with everything going on is anyone's guess. Teams, including the Blues, likely won't have the space to make the lavish offers he might have gotten otherwise. (Roman Josi's $9 million is usually the measuring stick on this.) It also remains to be seen as to how many teams look at their rosters and are prepared to go all in and say someone like Pietrangelo is the player to put us over the top and make us a Stanley Cup team. The Blues might be one of those teams. 
    So it's by no means a given that he's coming back, but this also isn't a case where the Blues will let him go without a fight. I think the Blues will be very aggressive in trying to keep him. It will just depend on how aggressive other teams are.
    Doesn't it make more sense to start back with the playoffs than to have some weird pod system of a remainder of the regular season where half the players are on teams that are already essentially eliminated from the playoffs?
    Except that a lot of teams are close, whether by points or points percentage, and feel that, given another couple weeks based on the way they were playing, or weren't playing, might be able to get in. Imagine a world where the Blues were two points out of a last playoff spot but were about to get Tarasenko back. The Blues would, reasonably, say, we want to play those games. And in any case, teams will want to get in games other than "preseason" games to get back into playoff shape. 
    Now, depending on when (if) the season starts, that might not be possible. But even a week's worth of regular-season games would be beneficial to the contenders and something the league, and the players union, would want to have.
    How much incentive the Detroit Red Wings may have in those games is another matter. 
    Mr. Timmermann,

    Thank you for once again passing the afternoon with the Blues die hards in this forum. I have no doubt you were as eager to host as we were to participate!

    I really enjoyed your Terry Crisp article. I particularly liked his quote at the end that dismissed the miracle label for Blues Cup win and recognized the run for what it was: “d--n hard work and d--n good coaching.” Great stuff. I couldn’t agree more. How do you go about contacting former Blues for these stories? Is it a cold call from a number in the phone book (probably not)? Did Mr. Crisp seem pretty amused to find Blues fans want to know what he’s up to these days?
  • Thanks for joining the chat and for reading.
    Crisp has been there and knows how hard it is to win a Stanley Cup, so he full appreciates that there aren't any cheap wins there.
    In his case, I feel like I cheated in that I had Crispy's phone number. In his case, I don't think he cared why I was calling. We talked for close to an hour.
    Bonus Terry Crisp story: He hates it when teams get called for too many men on the ice. He said Bowman would sit in the stands with four different noisemakers, a bell, a horn, a whistle and something else, with each sound meaning a certain line. The players would go out to practice and when he made a certain noise, it meant a line change with that particular line coming on. And if they screwed up the line change, he would come down and yell at whoever was responsible. Terry was adamant: Messed up line changes are almost always the result of the player coming off the ice "lolligagging."
    For the next one I did, publication date unknown at this point, I went through the last team he was associated with and they passed my information on to him. This ex-player, who will remain nameless to build suspense, was a bit surprised to hear from me since he wasn't in St. Louis all that long. 
  • Happy Wednesday Tom. Thank you for the chat!

    I can see summer hockey happening, it makes sense from the standpoint of completing the season and getting the guys back in shape for the playoffs. Has the NHL indicated how the playoff schedule would look, would they use the tournament style or revert back to normal scheduling?
  • It's all going to depend on when everything starts and how much time they have. The longer the wait, likely the shorter the playoffs. It seems fairly likely that opening rounds will be shorter, with only the final rounds being best of seven. But that is one of the many things up in the air. If they don't feel they can finish the regular season, then they will possibly go with an expanded, say, 20 teams playoff to accommodate the teams that were close to getting in. It seems like the league is willing to wait a long time. 
    There seems no chance the rest of the schedule as currently written will be used. If the regular season is finished, it will be based on practicality. The league could also choose a number other than 82 games and try to get every teams to that number so things are even.
  • That the NHL is still trying to find a way to play out the rest of the regular season makes the league look either irrationally optimistic or clueless about how they plan to proceed. Just yesterday, Steve Kerr said in an interview that regardless of what the NBA decides, Golden State has moved ahead as if their season has ended, and he sees no reason why a team so far out of the playoffs should be asked to resume play. If you're the Senators, a team that has already endured players getting sick, why would you agree to play any more games and risk your players health just so the NHL can mark it's regular season as complete? Successfully pulling off a shortened postseason without any player contracting the virus seems almost impossible, but playing games that only matter to a handful of teams seems irrational. Tom, do you think this is just pie in the sky thinking from Bettman or is the NHL really determined to finish its regular season playing in empty areas just so there's no ambiguity about whether the Islanders or the Blue Jackets really belong in the playoffs?
    If the NHL doesn't finish the season, the losses in revenue could be $500 million at the low end. That's a lot of money, and a lot of reason to wait. The league doesn't gain anything by canceling now, so why do it? As long as there is a chance, they have to ride it out. The NHL playoffs being what they are, any team with a chance to be in will want to be in. Even if there is no ticket revenue, there are reasons for teams to chase the Cup: merchandise sales, season-ticket sales, single-game ticket sales, stuff down the road. Ad rates on broadcasts could be higher. There's all sorts of things. The Detroit Red Wings may not complain about missing the playoffs, but any team that is a point or two out is going to complain. 
    How the Senators and Red Wings react is an issue. They may not care much, especially if they're just coming back to play two or three games. But if their safety can be assured, they won't have much choice. 
    This is how it works in politics, but it also is how it likely works at the NHL office: For any situation, you present the decision makers with all the options, no matter how extreme. At one end, you could have, who cares, play every game, and at the other end, call the season off or continue the season whenever a vaccine is developed. (I'm not sure which one is more extreme.) And then in the middle are all the other possibilities, which is usually the ones that get chosen. But you have to consider everything, even if you only consider it for a second before throwing it out. Right now, the league is going to try to finish the season because that is what's normal. If that doesn't work, they will move to the other options. And the time to consider them is now, when you have the time to consider them. 
    As I said earlier, there are reasons to play regular season games for player safety issues. That's another factor in all this. 
    If they re-start the season, then a player tests positive for the Corona Virus, what happens then?
  • Aye, there's the million-dollar question. Bill Daly of the league has said it wouldn't necessarily mean shutting things down. I don't see how it doesn't. If we get to the point where widespread testing is available, maybe that's different. If you can do total contact tracing on the positive person, test everybody accurately, and determine that no one else has it, maybe you can go on. But if it's during a time where teams are playing each other in pods, can the other three keep on going while the other stops? Can you say we'll have a playoff without the Central Division because someone on Chicago tested positive? That's a tough sell but would be massively frustrating for the teams in the other three divisions that weren't infected. There are an awful lot of factors that come into play on this which is why, as I've said before, once play resumes, the league will want to get down to as few teams as possible as quickly as possible, to minimize the chances for a positive test. It will be easier to keep 200 players under wraps then 400. 
    But absent totally reliable testing, if a Chicago player tested positive, you'd have to sit at least that entire team and maybe the team they just played against. It will get very messy very quickly 
  • Per St. Louis being considered a hub city, for practice rinks we have 5 sheets at ice in the new Centene and Maryville U (owned by Chesterfield Hockey Assoc.) complexes. That's pretty enticing. However, the downside is that they'll need to lock down those complexes, which would put the various youth hockey teams that use those complexes looking for ice at the older complexes (which don't exactly have a surplus ice to sell). Also, would the NHL give those youth hockey associations a fee for the use of the complex, and also to buy ice elsewhere? Lots of moving parts to consider!
  • The one thing I would say to that is that I think is if the NHL is back, it will be before youth teams are back, because it would be easier to monitor the status of players staying under one roof than kids on a team coming from 100 different houses. I think you could get by with either Centene or Maryville and not need both. If you have seven teams practicing, you can put one at Enterprise and spread the other six over two sheets at either of the places. Everybody doesn't have to go at 10:30. If you have to do 10 and 12 and 2 that would work. Teams would have to accept that. 
    But there are so many moving parts that would come into play and potentially lots of people, other than players, being in quarantine. 
  • Do you get the impression that Army is regretting the extension given to Faulk? Just seems like a lot of money to a 2nd (if Petro leaves) or 3rd pairing right defensemen.
  • I'm sure he's frustrated by it, but GMs also tend to be big picture guys and Armstrong has no doubt watched Faulk's game for a lot longer and a lot more closely than any of us. The results certainly haven't lived up to what Faulk is getting paid, but I think it's a bit soon to say Faulk is a total mistake. Players have bad seasons. (Well, most players have bad seasons.) If you dump guys the first time they have one, that might not be the best way to handle your roster. One thing the Blues haven't been able to do with Faulk is define a role for him, and that's a problem. If the Blues can find a situation where they can say, this is where you'll be and what you'll do, and it's not on the third pairing, that will be good.
  • Hi Tom. Watching the Blackhawks 2016 playoff series this week on FSMW the most distinctive impression is how much better we are in our top 4 lines. Which brings me to my question which is how stacked are the Blues at forwards in our minors? Thanks
  • Not very deep. If you want guys who potentially are top six forwards, now that Kyrou has been called up, you're looking maybe at Kostin, though he more likely projects as a bottom six guy. Toropchenko is still several years away, and it remains to be seen where he fits in. Most of the forwards at San Antonio are depth guys who would fill in down in the lineup. There are more defensemen down there.
  • If the NHL does come back in the summer; would the ice hold up enough to have multiple teams playing every day / night on the ice. It could be very beneficial to teams that play a slow, heavy style of game.
  • Who knows, though the league has made progress with the addition of dehumidifiers in buildings to keep the ice better. You'd likely need to allow some extra time between games. This is another reason why places with lower humidity might be better venues for multiple games. Would this work against a team like Tampa Bay? Maybe. But if every other condition is met for the league to return, the league won't let bad ice get in the way. They'll play through two inches of water if that's the case.
  • What is your take on the retro alternate jerseys? Any shot of those being featured more often next year?
  • They look better in isolation than they did with a whole team of players out there I thought. After a while, it looked like they were wearing pajamas. 
    As for next year, I don't know, since the Blues would, if next season does happen, have another jersey for the Winter Classic game in Minnesota. So would they use home, road, powder blue Winter Classic, new Winter Classic, and red retros all in one season? Five different jerseys may be too many. In any case, it would be hard to wear them too much more unless they ditched the Saturday powder blue jerseys.
  • The Olympics puts on a good tournament on that lasts 16 days. Is there any chance that the NHL will adopt an Olympic style tournament?
  • Only as an act of total desperation. I don't see a situation where the final isn't a best-of-seven series. NBC would want it, and at that point, you're talking only a couple weeks more so you're not backing up next season too much.
  • Kostin was drafted at the end of the first round in 2017. We have been led to believe that he will eventually be a top 6 power forward. You referred to him as a bottom 6 forward. Why? Is that how the Blues view him now? Should we lower our expectations?
    I think I've pretty consistently over the past year or so referred to him as a top nine guy. I think expectations on him were always a bit higher than the reality. He's a big guy, 6-3, 212, who has a career high 13 goals this season at San Antonio (though in only 48 games because of injuries). Maybe he ends up a second-line guy, depending on how you structure your lines. But I think the third line is where he's more likely to end up.
    The Blues have assembled a wealth of good prospects on defense. How would you rank them both in the near term and the long term?
    I'm not quite sure where to put Perunovich right now since he hasn't played at the NHL level. Other guys would be above him just based on pro experience. I think now, if the question was, who do the Blues need to play in a game, it would be:
    1. Mikkola
    2. Walman
    3. Perunovich
    4. Reinke
    By the start of next season, Perunovich could be at the top of that list. 
    If I were to go by NHL potential, it would be:
    1. Perunovich
    2. Mikkola
    3. Walman
    4. Reinke
    Hi Tom. how about the NHL makes all the games pay per view #49.99 and you get all games? Lots of commercials and the NHL gets a lot of money. I think people would jump on getting to watch every game played.
    It would get them some money, but NBC and NBCSN are entitled to games and there will be a certain goodwill factor to letting people see games. And when you get to the playoffs, every game is on TV anyway.
    If perunivich is such a great offensive player why not move him to a forward position? Since he isn't that big a guy for defense.
    I don't think he's that great an offensive player. Otherwise, that move would have happened already.
  • Blues players have always seemed to speak highly of STL, but this group of blues players seems to embrace STL like none other from seeing players at Mizzou football games, to seeing them out at local bars, to being at top golf. This group just seems to take more pride in the town and it really showed at the parade last year when more players were out walking than in the cars riding. Any feel if this is something special with this team? or is it common in other cities as well?
  • It's common to other cities, and hockey players are generally good guys, but this is a team with a lot of good guys. Also, there's never been a better time to be a Blue. We're living in a time where Sammy Blais or Mackenzie MacEachern is recognizable. Everyone knows who everyone is maybe more so than at any time in franchise history. But also, in a city like St. Louis, you're a lot more likely to see these guys than you would if you were in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or a bunch of other cities. It's how St. Louis is. My wife has always said in St. Louis, if you're wondering if that person you passed on the road or saw in a mall is someone you knew, in all likelihood it is. In Los Angeles, probably not. But these are a good bunch of guys.
  • What good does it do to have games in an arena where nobody is there. There is no revenue stream for the owners playing behind closed doors. Secondly any chance of the Blues playing a European game any time soon like the did in Sweden?
  • Yes, there's no ticket revenue stream. But there's a TV stream, there's an advertising stream -- FSM or NBC will get more money for ads in a real Blues game than in a replay of an old game -- and there's a marketing stream and a goodwill stream. Whichever team wins the Cup or gets to the Final is going to be glad it did and will likely reap some financial benefits at some point, if only in selling Stanley Cup champion T-shirts. There are lots of numbers at play. Now, is there a point where the cost of keeping so many people in a hotel for so long begins to cost more than you get from TV and other revenues, and the league is certainly going to look at that. But I think the league will err on the side of playing games rather than not playing them if it's a revenue issue. 
    As for going to Europe, the Blues would like to and, as the roster is currently structured, a game in Sweden would make sense. How soon that might happen is hard to say. Foreign games likely aren't going to happen next season.
  • Any news on how Blues AHLers are doing? Their season is terminated. Are some of them still going to join the Blues if playoffs are resumed? Where are they going to practice?
    Have you heard anything about where Klim Kostin is now (in US, in Russia?) specifically?
    Haven't heard anything specific on the AHLers. If the NHL restarts, which is likely to happen before the AHL restarts, they will have to have expanded rosters in case players get injured, which there might be a greater likelihood of in the early games. So the Blues may be carrying 30 players at that point, as will every other team. Not sure where Kostin is. Considering salaries, AHL players may have been less inclined to fly back to Europe.
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