Kukla's Korner Hockey
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced the club has reached a deal, in principal, with defenseman Wade Redden today. Terms of the contract are for one-year and $800,000.
“Wade is a solid two-way defenseman,” said Armstrong. “We believe his experience will complement and add stability to our defensive core.”
from Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat,
In a league where franchise defensemen are the gold standard, the St. Louis Blues have one of the NHL's most valuable assets in Alex Pietrangelo.
Pietrangelo turns 22 today. His elite performance forces opposing teams to account for him every time he is on the ice.
"The second half of last season, he played with a target," Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said of Pietrangelo, who wedged himself into Norris Trophy consideration by scoring 12 goals and 51 points. He played upwards of 25 minutes a night for a team that finished second overall in the league standings.
"Like a Nick Lidstrom, like a Ray Bourque, like Shea Weber, he's going to have that target now for the rest of his career so he's going to have to learn to protect himself," Armstrong said. "He's a player that when you play against the St. Louis Blues, he's circled.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
If the Blues felt that way then, how do you think they feel now that the season is finally starting Saturday? They were primed to contend already because of their hunger and improved health, and the lockout should work to their advantage because of their continuity, structure, depth and goaltending. They are set up for this 48-game sprint in the West like the New York Rangers are in the East.
The goal is no longer growth. When the Blues announced a five-year extension Wednesday for Doug Armstrong, the NHL’s reigning general manager of the year, Armstrong said in a statement that Hitchcock and his staff "believe we have constructed the foundation necessary to compete year in and year out and deliver St. Louis its first Stanley Cup."
The Blues know what it takes. They know because after Hitchcock took over a 6-7-0 team and turned it into a 49-22-11 team, good for 109 points and second place in the West, they ran into the Los Angeles Kings in the second round.
And they got swept.
Just getting you prepared for the puck dropping on Saturday...
The Chicago Blackhawks put up 101 points last season, good enough to be one of 10 teams in the NHL to crack the century mark. It didn't matter because, for the second straight season since winning the Stanley Cup, they were knocked off in the first round of the playoffs. The good thing for the Blackhawks is unlike in 2010-11, the season after a summer of being crushed by salary-cap constraints, they feel they know exactly what went wrong last season.
1. Will the goaltending duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery be good enough?
Crawford won 30 games last season, but it was a struggle as he allowed three or more goals in 27 of his 57 appearances in the regular season and in five of his six appearances in the playoffs. Instead of building on a strong finish to the 2010-11 season, he went backward with a 2.72 goals-against average, .903 save percentage and zero shutouts in 57 appearances.
Emery wasn't any better with a 2.81 GAA and .900 save percentage in 34 appearances. Crawford was supposed to cement himself as the clear-cut No. 1 in Chicago, but he hasn't done that yet. It appears he'll be given another chance this season to become that guy.
2. Is Patrick Kane going to mature and have a bounce-back season?
"Us older guys who have been around a while, we recognize what the game has given us, which is a heck of a living and heck of a life. There comes a time when you’re afraid for the game. The thing that is unique about hockey players is that they’re like the kid next door. They play the game for the right reason. They put everything on the line for two months to compete for the Cup when their salaries are finished. They compete for the right reasons. You never want to destroy that. It’s unique to our sport. Every spring is about that charm. We don’t ever want to see that get lost. That’s the fear about reading about a lockout every day, that becomes more dominant than the reasons why the boys really play hockey. Now we have to earn it all back."
-Ken Hitchcock, head coach of the St. Louis Blues. More from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN in an article titled, Lockout damage will take a long time to fix.
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Chairman Tom Stillman and Blues President John Davidson announced today that Davidson has decided to depart from the organization and move on to the next stage of his Hall of Fame career.
“We would like to thank JD for his commitment and dedication to the Blues organization over the past six seasons,” said Stillman. “He has been instrumental in revitalizing the Blues franchise and has built a strong foundation for our organization, which will ensure the club’s success well into the future. He has also developed one of the top teams in the game today. JD has played a critical role in reconnecting the franchise with Blues fans and the entire St. Louis community, and he is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the term, personally and professionally. JD and his wife, Diana, have been deeply involved in the community, and they have represented the Blue Note with honor and class. We wish JD, Diana, and their daughters, Lindsay and Ashley, great health, happiness, and success in their future endeavors. We will always consider them part of the Blues family.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Will St. Louis be the same without Davidson? Presumably, for a while, they’ll manage just fine. The hockey operations department remains strong. You’d have to think that the Blues’ best young players - defencemen Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk; forwards T. J. Oshie and David Perron - have some upside and thus can still get better.
But sometimes, the sort of convivial, understated aw-shucks leadership style that Davidson embraces is a difficult act to duplicate. Cliff Fletcher had it down too. They made coming to work not seem like work at all. Not everyone can manage that trick. It requires a certain amount of personal charm to pull it off properly.
They had a pretty good going in St. Louis, this last little while, and some of the credit had to go to Davidson, the man in charge of the whole shebang. It’s hard to imagine why the new ownership fronted by Tom Stillman, who was formerly a minority owner of the team, felt they needed to make a change.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
After months of speculation following the sale of the St. Louis Blues, John Davidson has stepped down as president of hockey operations and is leaving the Blues' organization after more than six seasons. His next career move is not immediately known.
Davidson, 59, interviewed with the Blue Jackets for an unspecified front-office job on May 29. It's unclear if he wants to undertake another rebuilding effort -- the Blues were the worst club in hockey (57 points) when he arrived in 2006 -- or if he favors a return to the broadcast booth, where he achieved his greatest fame.
Davidson's future in St. Louis became murky the moment Tom Stillman's purchase of the franchise was approved.
Personally, I'd love to see Davidson back on the air, he is a great analyst of the game.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
A source has confirmed to the Post-Dispatch that Davidson, who spent seven years with the organization, has agreed to a buyout offer from the Blues for an undisclosed amount.
Davidson, who most recently held the title of president of hockey operations, had three years left on a contract that owed him approximately $6 million.
Speaking from personal experience as a St. Louis Blues fan, the 1995-96 Red Wings broke my heart. More specifically, Steve Yzerman, Game 7, double OT. I guarantee that if you mention that phrase to any Blues fan, you will get a pained groan in response. And, of course, this is the one highlight they always show on NHL commercials: Yzerman's unreal slap shot from just inside the blue line, the puck somehow eluding Al MacInnis and Murray Baron and, most obnoxious of all, Jon Casey's shoulder. And then his euphoric (and gag-inducing) sissy-leap down the wall. Ugh.
-David Walton of ESPN when discussing the greatest NHL team of the modern era.
Let's relive that "sissy-leap" again, watch below...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org