3.12.2008

The Obligatory Hockey Post

Flash back to late-October, 2007: the Cardinals were playing golf; the Rams still hadn't won a game and were in the running for the #1 pick.

The city of St. Louis was looking for a team to get behind, to cheer for, to capture their attention for a while...and that was the Blues (okay they did jump on the Mizzou bandwagon too but there's a whole 'nother site to talk about them).

A lot of fans were complaining about how the Rams front office runs their team. The Cardinals have plenty of critics too. But the Blues' were busting their asses all summer to get fans to come back. Attendance had been bad since the lockout, but a slight glimmer of hope came at the end of last season when new coach Andy Murray helped the team finish strong. Signing Paul Kariya for three years and '06 top pick Erik Johnson's debut gave the Bloosiers something to look forward to.

People wanted to cheer for the Blues again. A lot of us youngsters grew up during the golden era of late 80's-early 90's Blues hockey - pretty much the Brett Hull era, up until Mike Keenan was hired. And before that, our parents grew up during the early days of the franchise, filling the Arena on a consistent basis (105.7% capacity in '69-'70...wow).

Combining this, along with the hot start the team got off to, and it's really hard to deal with the current state of the Blues. They've lost 10 out of the past 11 games and have 4 points in that span. It has dropped them from a couple points away from a playoff spot, to 4th worst team in the NHL.

So, like I did back in November of '05 (wow, November? I'm a jerk), here are some of the top prospects to look out for in the NHL draft this June, via Mark Seidel at The Hockey News.

#1 – Steven Stamkos; C, Sarnia Sting. Continues to dominate. Fans in Sarnia should pay close attention because it’s doubtful he’ll be back next year.

#2 – Alex Pietrangelo; RD, Niagara IceDogs. Defensive play is still less than ideal, so his playoff performance will be very important to maintaining the No. 2 slot.

#3 – Drew Doughty; LD, Guelph Storm. Most guys are convinced he is No. 2, but I still think his upside is less than Pietrangelo’s. But there have been nights when he has simply dominated.

#4 – Zach Bogosian; RD, Peterborough Petes. Play has tailed off on occasion, but the overall package is brimming with upside and thus he maintains his No. 4 ranking.

#5 – Nikita Filatov; RW, CSKA Moscow. Had a phenomenal performance at the Five Nations and is clearly the second-best forward in the draft.


Those are some great team names.

If you're still reading, here is a mock draft posted on March 10 by an NHL draft site. They have Doughty going to the Blues at the 4 spot. He is listed as a 5'11" defenseman. Hmm. Sounds like he can score though. Sign him up.

We all knew the rebuilding process would take a few years, but it really seemed like the Blues would turn the corner this year. I thought a playoff spot was guaranteed with the Kariya signing, even if just a 7th or 8th seed. But no one thought a regression was in the works. Andy Murray's job is safe for a while and there are plenty of kids to watch out for over the next few years.

I was trying not to turn this into a Kansas Jayhawk-esque article, so I'll end with this: I am looking forward to Blues hockey again next season and you should too.

---------

And instead of doing two posts about hockey in the same year, check out the former Blues who will be signing autographs in the near future: Jon Casey, Soupy Campbell, Darren Kimble (in Alton-look out!), Perry Turnbull (H-Wood), and Bob Plager.

Who's else is having flashbacks of Jim Campbell doing commercials for the now out-of-business Kenrod's Restaurant?

"Soupy!"

1 comment:

Big Head said...

Kimble signing at Norbs?

And Sarnia only rhymes with one thing...Narnia (Chronic WHAAAcullls)