Camp Surprise – Samuel Blais

Training camps in the NHL can be odd. Sometimes there are players that surprise, that emerge from obscurity and open a bunch of eyes, score a bunch of goals in scrimmages and preseason games. But more often than not, players perform pretty much as expected. Teams go into the season with the same roster they anticipated going into camp.

Continue reading “Camp Surprise – Samuel Blais”

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Five for 20

Robby Fabbri will be motivated to break out in 2017-18 as a top offensive threat.

Defense and goaltending may win championships, but scoring is sexy. For the past few seasons, the Blues haven’t been known as one the league’s most productive offenses. Last season, there were only two players that cracked the 20-goal plateau – Vladimir Tarasenko with 39 (duh), and Patrik Berglund with 23 (whuuuuutt).

The Blues easily could have had five or more. Paul Stastny was well on pace to reach 20+, but his season was interrupted by injury. He ended playing 66 games, and scored 18 goals. Jaden Schwartz was just 1 goal shy of 20, with 78 games played. And now ex-Blue David Perron scored 18 goals.

Injuries are the great unknown of any sports  season, but barring anything serious, here are my Top 5 candidates to reach at least 20 goals for the 2017-18 season.

  1. Vladimir Tarasenko – This one’s a no-brainer. Tarasenko is truly an elite forward now. He has 116 goals over the past three seasons, for an average of just under 39.
  2.  Jaden Schwartz – He has two 20+ seasons in his young career, and he’s improving as an all-around player. He went through a 14-game goal-less stretch last year, which hurt his goal totals. Jaden is expected to rebound, as he has a full year between him and his injury-shortened 2015-16 season.
  3. Robby Fabbri –  There is a lot riding on Robby’s year. Blues management and coaching are fully expecting him to A) be heathy; and B) put up numbers as a 2nd-line forward. He will have more opportunity for ice time, considering the loss of David Perron in the Vegas expansion draft. He’s definitely penciled in to the Top 6 forwards.
  4. Brayden Schenn – I’m really looking forward to watching Schenn play. I was so thrilled on draft night when I read the news of his acquisition from the Flyers. And for Jori Lehtera – addition by subtraction! Seventeen of Schenn’s 25 goals last year came on the power play, so he will no doubt beef up the punch of special teams. Whether he plays at center or wing, he’ll bring a skill upgrade to the top 2 lines.
  5. Paul Stastny – I think a majority of fans would consider Stastny to be a partial bust as a free agent signing. His numbers here have fallen well short of what he put up in Colorado. But last year was his most productive, even with injuries. He was on pace for cracking 20, and now playing in a contract year, he’ll be motivated to earn his next contract.

I think we’ll see an offensive improvement in 2017-18. I can’t wait for hockey to start again, and to see what kind of numbers these 5 will put up. But what do you think? Any season always brings its own surprises.

Thanks for reading.

A Needless Stall

The long-needed renovations to the Scottrade Center are under way. They are expected to be complete in time for a September Ed Sheeran concert. The funding of those renovations, however, is not settled.

That’s because St. Louis City Comptroller Darlene Green is refusing to sign off on the financing deal that was approved by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, and duly signed into law, by the Mayor.

Scottrade has needed improvements for some time. Not only is it home to the Blues, but many major concerts come to town, such as Ed Sheeran. Upgrading the arena is key to the continuation of hosting one of the best NHL teams, and to drawing major events that drive revenue into the city.

A $64-million financing agreement was negotiated and passed by the Board earlier this year. The mayor signed the bill, making it Missouri law. Comptroller Green is defying that law by refusing to sign off on the financing deal. Her signature is mandated by the agreement.

Green’s only basis for her refusal is a clause in the city charter that states the comptroller shall “preserve the credit of the city.”

Here’s where I land on this issue: It’s unequivocally Comptroller Green’s job to sign off on the financing deal. It’s not at her discretion. It’s not, “hey sign this if you’re okay with it.” She’s supposed to sign it. The law is clear on that. Her duty to preserve the credit of the city does not take precedence over executing her duties as outlined in a law passed by the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor.

I recently had an exchange of comments to an article about this topic. The man with whom I engaged was sympathetic to Comptroller Green. He told me “it’s not about you!” My response was that it kind of is, because I represent thousands of Blues fans who want to enjoy a renovated Scottrade.

His response to that was that maaaayyybe there were 6,000 such fans. He came up with that number because he reasoned Scottrade fits 20,000 at most, and of those, just 6,000 fans came from outside the City. That may be a fair assumption, but what he didn’t take into account is the fact that there are many, many more Blues fans than just the 20,000 that show up for a single game.

I don’t fault Comptroller Green for wanting to perform her job well. That’s admirable. But in this case, it’s her job to execute the agreement. Please, do your job, Ms. Green.

Thanks for reading.