Time for a little history lesson. Now, as any smart NHL fan knows, the St. Louis Blues came into this league as an expansion team in 1967. The first three years of the franchise's existence, they had made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs 3 times...and lost every time. This has been an unfortunate loop for my dear Blue-notes.
Under Coach Mike Keenan (Now of the Calgary Flames), the Blues had a steady roster of players that would have blossomed beautifully and most likely led to at least a playoff berth. Unfortunately, Mike Keenan and the Front Office, at the time, were a bunch of idiots. When I say idiots, I mean they traded away players who were formerly, or are now stars in the league. When I say idiots, I mean they couldn't have made worse decisions. Ladies and Gentleman, the organization of the time (and a bit later on, for that matter) and Mike Keenan, traded away Jochen Hecht (WHAT!?), Brett Hull (WHAT!?), Pierre Turgeon (WHAT!?), Pavol Demitra (WHAT!?), Brendan Shanahan (WHAT!?), and Chris Pronger (WHAT!?).
Take a moment to breathe, this list might make you a little dizzy.
You ok now? Good.
Now, let me clarify, not ALL of the players listed above were traded by Mike Keenan and that Front Office. The Front Office made bad decisions later to trade Demitra and a few others. Still, Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan? Come on. A sea lion could have made a better choice.
Then, came a hero to the Blues organization, Joel Quinvelle! (Now of the Colorado Avalanche). He brought the Blues to a 20+ year playoff run. Then he left, and that brings us to today.
Last season, Mike Kitchen took over as the head coach of the St. Louis Blues. Then everything went to hell. The Blues were outplayed every single time they got on the ice. Soon after, he was fired and Andy Murray (Now of the St. Louis Blues, formerly of the Los Angeles Kings). Almost magically, the Blues improved drastically and finished that half of the season several games above five hundred.
Finally, (Sorry for the wait, I had to bring you up to speed) we bring you to the 2007 - 2008 Season. With the signing of free agent and explosive skater, Paul Kariya (#9), excitement was back in St. Louis and in the St. Louis Blues. Attendence increased enormously, finishing the season with 20 sellouts (!!!). The first half of the season started out with a fantastic boom, the Blues were playing great defense, their penalty kill was incredible, offense was being generated from the point, from the slot, and from the boards, the fore-check was intense, and the goal-tending of Manny Legace (#34) and Hannu Toivunen (#35) was superb. Then Christmas came, and you know the story, they sucked so bad it was hard to watch without protective eye-wear. However, there were a few bright spots, such as Brad Boyes (#22) scoring 43 goals in the season. Then they're was Keith Tkachuk's (#7) 500th goal, becoming the 41st player to reach the plateau.
So what can we look back at and blame for the one total reason for this enormous fall out in the second half of the season?
1 word, My little duckies. Scoring.
The Blues, as I have observed, have seemed to blame their lack of scoring on a number of different things, the main being lack of offense from the defenseman and a lack of shots on the powerplay. While both are valid reasons, they aren't the biggest. No one seems to mention it, but I see it. The Blues simply did not play hard and drive to the slot. While, yes, we had people in the slot, we never played it off of that person. Whenever it went in, it was usually on the rush or a deflected shot, or a rebound. Never was it a pass to the slot, LIKE IT SHOULD BE. Again and again, I watched as my favorite team was trounced by teams they clearly should have been able to beat, but they never used the slot.
On another note, if you aren't from St. Louis you might not get this, so I will try to explain it as best I can. Eric Brewer (#4) had a horrible season from a defensive standpoint. Not in terms of points, specifically, but in terms of his play on the ice. We were sickened, we were upset, we were angry about it, it made us gnash our teeth and choke our pillows. Then, to put the perverbial 'icing on the cake', they made him the captain. If you listen carefully, you'll hear my screams of utter rage. I know he's a veteran, but it was honestly the worst choice the Blues have made in a long time. The captain should have been Brad Boyes (#22), or Paul Kariya (#9), or Andy McDonald (#10), or even Jamal Mayers (#21) - the longest running Blue. But no, they made this fumbling, bumbling, filthy excuse of a defenseman the captain.
Finally, to close out this article, I'd like to talk a little about the future of the St. Louis Blues. There are a few players coming up that will play great hockey for the Blues. My fellow human beings, I am talking about David Perron (#57), Steve Wagner (#49), Erik Johnson (#6), Patrick Berglund, Ben Bishop (6'7 210 Goaltender), T.J. Oshie, Eric Cole, and Lars Eller. These bright, young players are sure to be a corner-stone of the Blues organization next year, and in years to come. For instance, Erik Johnson (#6) looks like he has been playing in the NHL for a few years now and plays with poise. Plus that great shot from the blue-line and his ability to quarterback the power play. David Perron (#57) had his ups and downs this past season, but is by far one of the greatest puck handlers I've ever seen. He deeks people with incredible stick speed and great control. These are only a few of the prospects we hope to see here in St. Louis - and here's to the Blues finally winning a Stanley Cup. (In my lifetime.....hopefully.)
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Thank You, David Campbell.