If you’re a St. Louis Blues fan, these are strange days.
How many conference finalists bid farewell to their team captain and starting goaltender in the following summer? How many general managers of conference finalists are willing to admit that to get over the hump, they might need to scurry back a few yards and get a running start?
“We don’t want to take any backwards movement in our organization. But sometimes you do expose yourself to maybe taking half a step back to take a couple steps forward,” said GM Doug Armstrong, to the Boston Globe.
Essentially what he’s talking about is transferring the leadership responsibilities – and in some cases, ice time – to the large collection of under-30 players that now dominate the Blues’ roster.
This is the team of Alex Pietrangelo, who could be the next captain. It’s the team of youngins Colton Parayko, Robby Fabbri and Jaden Schwartz. It’s Vladimir Tarasenko’s team, of course, and now it’s Jake Allen’s team.
In cutting ties with David Backes, Troy Brouwer and Brian Elliott, the Blues cut ties with a lot of experience and some really respected voices in the room. So part of the intrigue this season is if the young players step up, or defer to the remaining vets on the roster like Paul Stastny, Scottie Upshall and David Perron.
From Fluto Shinzawa:
Armstrong does not have reservations about his young players’ talent. He cannot answer how his returning group will adapt to a room down three critical chain-pullers, including a former captain.
“It’s going to be an interesting case study on how quickly this group takes up the leadership,” Armstrong said. “Can they do it in September? Or does it take them a year? There’s certainly a faith that over time, they’re going to pick it up without any issue. Obviously you want them to pick it up as quickly as possible. We don’t want to take any backwards movement in our organization. But sometimes you do expose yourself to maybe taking half a step back to take a couple steps forward. It just seemed like with the commitments we want to make to a player like Schwartz — the one we made with Tarasenko, what we did with Jake Allen at 25-26 years old, Colton Parayko we think is a really good player — people get caught in the crosshairs. That’s the unfortunate side of the business.”
As Shinzawa notes, the leadership mysteries for the Blues extend to the coaching staff, which will have an unusual configuration with Ken Hitchcock coaching next to the man who’ll replace him in the 2017-18 season, Mike Yeo. [/restrict]