Glad to see we still have a good following early in the offseason. Let's get chattin...
I'd like to know how many people feel that Hitchcock gets a free pass. I don't want to act like this is unheard of ... because I've heard this complaint from a few people ... but I'm just curious. Everyone, including and especially Hitchcock, should be held accountable for what's happened with the Blues in the playoff the past two years. Have there been coaching-related issues that led to the postseason exits? Yes. Going away from the CPR line in the 2013 playoffs I thought was questionable. Was it the reason the Blues lost? No. There were issues, I'm sure, that we don't have time to elaborate on. But to me the bottom line was that players, including top players, didn't execute. You can say that's the coach's fault, but it doesn't matter who's behind the bench when a player misses the net by 10 feet. So in conclusion, Hitchcock shouldn't be taken off the hook and perhaps that happens a bit because he's a likeable guy and well-respected coach. But there's a lot more blame to go around in my mind.
Armstrong is the one who said that Jaskin has a "spot to lose." This is an honest curiosity: I am interested in the psychology of such a statement. Is it better to tell a player heading into the offseason that he has a spot to lose? Does that make him work harder in the summer? Or is it better to keep him thinking and perhaps working even harder? I honestly don't know. I think the bottom line is that a guy like Jaskin is going to work hard either way. Perhaps Armstrong's support gives him even more confidence. As far as Hitchcock not trusting him, we have to keep in mind that Hitchcock was coaching a high-stakes situation with a player who doesn't have a lot of experience. Jaskin was given opportunities and didn't make the most of them, but he's still a player who's learning and growing. Now we just wait until training camp and see what he looks like when he comes back.
I read a story recently in which Joseph said that he'd be interested in being a goalie coach someday. I haven't heard about any dots connecting the Blues and Joseph. Seems like he'd be a good fit, but again, I've heard nothing on this front.
Blues fans sure hope so. I spoke with Muller about this and he said that he would need to come in and watch video and assess the situation. Muller scored quite a few power-play goals in his career, but his teams in Carolina weren't great on the man-advantage. In his three years, the Hurricanes were 24th, 27th and 20th in the league. Of course, it's apples and oranges when you're talking about different personnel. Too early to tell what he'll be able to do with the Blues, but they are counting on him to offer his experience.
Pending free agents can obviously be talking with their current teams now. Under the new collective-bargaining agreement, there is now a window that UFAs can start talking to other clubs before the free agency period actually begins and that is June 25 this year.
I received the design pages in the mail this week. I'm in the final editing stages now and, if I'm not mistaken, we're looking at a publish date of October. I'll keep you posted.
I think Armstrong will explore the trade market prior to free agency. I believe where there's smoke, there is fire regarding the Jason Spezza rumors. He could be a good addition to this club and I think he's a player that Armstrong has been long and hard at. If there's a match there with Ottawa, that could be a possibility. If Armstrong can't swing a deal, then free agency is an option. But everybody knows, teams pay way too much in free agency and that hasn't been the Blues' MO.
Ding, ding, ding ... winner of the "I didn't anticipate this question today" award. I don't even know what the Hrkac Circus is doing these days. I do have a good story about him that will be in my book. It has to do with his choice of beverages in the afternoon on the night he scored four goals in a playoff game. How's that for a tease?
That's a real possibility. I think the Blues acknowledged that this season moving Backes to the wing at times. Certainly Backes can handle being in the middle on the top line, but is it ideal? I think it would serve everyone better if the Blues had a No. 1 center, more of a skilled guy, and could use Backes in a more effective manner.
No. The only year on his contract is the 2014-15 season. That's one angle that wasn't addressed much when the option was picked up. I've mentioned that the Blues still have great confidence in Hitchcock, but you can't ignore the fact that no other years were added to the deal. I think that was the case because all parties want to see where this thing goes in '14-15.
I don't like to get into the speculation of individual players, but obviously for anyone paying attention, those are the names who have been mentioned in Ottawa. Again, I'm not going to get into whether that will "be enough" but if Spezza has asked for a trade and there are only a limited number of teams that are willing to make that type of deal, then I don't think the Senators have a whole lot of leverage. We'll see.
Spezza might not be one of the top No. 1 centers in the league, but he's obviously more of an offensively skilled center than the Blues have currently.
I'm not sure another coach would have done anything differently matchup-wise against the Blackhawks. Remember, Toews and Kane (along with several of the other top players) were practically silent in the first two games of the series, before the Blues lost Backes. That forced the Blues to change things up, along with the fact that the series switched to United Center, where the Hawks got the last line change.
Did Shattenkirk have a great playoff? No. Could they decide to trade him? Yes. Do I think they will? No.
I think both perspectives are valid. The bottom line is the job didn't get done. Some fans were ready to shake things up after last year's playoff loss to the Kings. I've mentioned that I was one to give it a little more time. But after seeing what happened this year, I think most would be in favor of a different look. I'm not saying an overhaul. But you definitely need an upgrade in skill to be able to compete with the teams that still remain in the playoffs.
There are off-ice officials in the press box who watch the guys going on and off the ice. I've sat next to different crews around the league. You can here them saying "25 is on, 57 is off," etc.
A few off the top of my head: Pierre LeBrun, Craig Custance, James Mirtle, Ken Campbell, Elliott Friedman, Eric Duhatschek.
The Blues own his NHL rights. It's moot right now because he's not shown any interest in playing in the NHL. So it's really not a trade chip unless teams around the league know he has interest in coming over.
Seems like a good guestimate, but if I were a betting man, I would take the "over" on 22 regarding Allen. Slightly over.
As far as how the Blues are treating Elliott, I don't think they've done anything to "mistreat" him. You could consider it a slight to make the trade for Miller when Elliott was playing well, but I don't think there's a GM in the league who would have bypassed a chance at Miller because they had Elliott in the fold. I do understand that Elliott probably deserves a better chance than he's received. But it's a business relationship: when the Blues have needed Elliott, they have put him in the lineup and he's played well. I don't think he can complain. He's a goalie who had some rough times prior to coming here. It's not like he's a first-round pick who came in with a big contract and expected to get 60 games a year. He's done what the Blues have asked and it's their prerogative to upgrade the position when they deem it necessary.
Micah, time to get up buddy. Micah! Micah!