Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
This is the story of a hockey team so hot, that if it resided in Canada we would know its roster from lines one through four, and three pairings deep.
Instead however, the St. Louis Blues reside in anonymity in the Midwest, quietly rolling along in an arena that’s on its third name, under ownership that has been trying to sell off part of the team for so long that now it might settle for selling it to itself….
Here are some fast facts to chew on:
—St. Louis is 21-3-3 at home this season, best in the NHL. (Can you even name their arena?). They’re on a 13-0-2 run at home, where they haven’t lost since Dec. 3.
—The Blues allowed a third period goal in a 4-2 win over Buffalo Saturday, (the first in 11 games). (There was one in an overtime loss to Vancouver Jan. 12.)
—St. Louis has four shutouts in its last seven games, and is 9-0-1 versus the Eastern conference this season, including wins in Philly, Pittsburgh, Washington and Florida.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
A group led by Blues minority owner Tom Stillman has signed a purchase agreement to buy the club, a source has told the Post-Dispatch.
The Blues and Stillman must now complete the sale and have it approved by the NHL, a process that could take several weeks. The league’s Board of Governors will meet Jan. 28 in Ottawa during the all-star festivities, but it’s expected that only an update on the Blues’ situation would be discusssed, not a vote.
The step of Stillman’s group signing a purchase agreement comes 2 1/2 weeks after the NHL terminated a purchase agreement between the Blues and Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer. The league then granted Stillman an exclusive negotiating window, leading to today’s news of a signed purchase agreement.
The price of the package, which includes the Blues, the team’s top minor-league affiliate in Peoria, Ill., the Scottrade Center lease and significant interest in the Peabody Opera House, is expected to be approximately $130-135 million.
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club signed All-Star goaltender Brian Elliott to a two-year contract.
“Brian came in here and helped stabilize our goaltending and make it one of the top tandems in the NHL,” said Armstrong. “Our goaltending is set having Brian and Jaro signed through the 2013-14 season. Along with Ben Bishop and Jake Allen in Peoria, our depth at goaltender has never been stronger.”
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Never mind all those harrowing one-goal victories Ken Hitchcock racked up after taking over as coach of the Blues.
That was just the warm-up act.
This team – the one that skated over the Canadiens 3-0 in Montreal Tuesday night – is the one the rest of the National Hockey League should fear.
Much has been written about this team’s impressive depth. Much has been written about the collective Blues commitment, effort and discipline.
But now we’re finally starting to see its high skill level emerge as well.
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak has made it all the way back from his October swoon. With the whole league watching closely, he shrugged off enormous homecoming pressure and blanked the Habs.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The Professor passed away Tuesday and you can bet there were lots of smiles around the NHL at the thought of Ron Caron.
And not just because he picked the day of a game between his two most beloved teams, the Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues, to take his leave.
You couldn’t help but smile at the former St. Louis Blues general manager even though seconds after he impressed you with his thoughtful, gentle nature it was just as likely you were convinced the man was possessed. No one could tear up a press box like Caron, who turned into a raging maniac as soon as the puck was dropped for a game featuring his Blues.
Everyone who’s been around the NHL for more than 15 years has a Ron Caron story. They called him The Professor for his hockey intellect and amazing knowledge of baseball, Caron’s second great passion, but it was his temper that forged his legend. And the distinctive sandpaper voice that broadcast his temper meant almost everyone did a Ron Caron impression.
from Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
It was precisely at this time of year in 2011 when things went south for the Blues. They rode into January carrying a five-game winning surge and a 20-12-5 overall record, sitting fifth in the Western Conference. By the time the month was over, they were 22-20-7 and in 13th place, headed down a dead-end road. The 2-8-2 month, which included six home games, was their point of no return.
That was then, this is now. The current Blues started January with a record nearly identical — 21-12-5, good for fifth in the conference — to that of last year’s club. This January is particularly promising, one that features nine of 11 games at home. Home is where the heart of the Blues’ success has been.
They are 15-3-2 at the Scottrade Center and as of Wednesday, the Blues led the NHL in home points with 32. They were tied with Detroit for most home wins. In that context, January is a chance to make some hay. When the month is over, the Blues will conduct 20 of their remaining 31 games away from home, including sobering road trips of six and seven games in March.
January was a horror story in 2010-11. It needs to be “Chicken Soup for the Playoffs” this time.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The NHL has terminated the purchase agreement held by Matthew Hulsizer in his pursuit of the Blues, opening the door for Tom Stillman to strike a deal, an NHL source has told the Post-Dispatch.
Hulsizer, who signed a purchase agreement in October, had until last Saturday to finalize the sale, but an NHL-imposed deadline passed without an agreement that was suitable to the league.
Brendan Shanahan explains the suspension.
Blues’ defenseman Ian Cole faces a disciplinary hearing Sunday for his illegal check to the head penalty on Red Wings’ forward Justin Abdelkader in the first period of Saturday’s game.
If you missed the hit, The Malik Report has all the videos…
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St, Louis Post-Dispatch,
The NHL-imposed deadline for the sale of the Blues to Matthew Hulsizer is less than 48 hours away and it’s unlikely, but still possible, that a deal will be completed in time according to multiple sources with knowledge of the process.
“It could go either way,” one source said.
Almost two months ago, the league gave Hulsizer until Dec. 31 to finalize the purchase. And despite sources’ claims that a closing had been imminent in recent weeks, nothing has materialized. The hang-up appears to be the ability of Hulsizer and Dave Checketts to provide sufficient equity and perhaps secure the necessary bank financing to guarantee the viability of the ownership group.
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.
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