The question of whether or not Doug Armstrong would be active at the trade deadline has been answered. Unfortunately, fan favorite Ben Bishop will be on the move. The Blues sent Bishop to the Ottawa Senators for a second round pick in the 2013 draft, early Sunday morning.
With the hottest goaltending tandem in the league, it may come as a surprise that the departure of Bishop has not gone over well with most Blues fans. To the casual hockey fan, the Blues received a second round pick as compensation for the best goaltender in the American Hockey League. In essence, St. Louis dumps off a good pick, Bishop, that the team doesn’t need, for a chance at making another good pick in the future. The trade just makes sense when observed objectively.
But fans simply cannot cannot be objective in matters regarding their favorite teams. For Blues fans, there was a mystique surrounding Bishop that made fans gravitate towards him.
At 6′ 7”, Bishop is the tallest goalie ever to play in the National Hockey League. His height made him somewhat of an urban legend. The thought that some behemoth goaltender was dominating the minors, waiting for his opportunity to perform on the big stage, gave fans hope. Knowing that a phenom, the likes of which the hockey world has never seen, existed in the Blues’ system created a sense of promise that Blues fans willingly bought into.
The “hometown hero” factor was also at play in the negative reaction towards Armstrong’s move. Bishop grew up in St. Louis, playing youth hockey for the Kirkwood Stars and the Junior Blues. He then went on to attend Chaminade College Prep, where he played with Calgary Flames’ defenseman, Chris Butler, and Colorado Avalanche superstar, Paul Stastny. When the Blues selected Bishop in the third round of the 2005 draft, Blues fans envisioned Bishop becoming a homegrown superstar. St.Louis sports fans where prepared to welcome the hometown boy with loyalty and adoration (Think St.Louis native, David Freese in the 2011 playoffs).
In situations where a fan-favorite is traded, or leaves in free agency (He who must not be named), we must be reminded that professional sports is a business and team success yields good business. Doug Armstrong obviously felt that moving Bishop for a second round pick gives the Blues the best chance of future success.
Although the move hurts now, Blues fans will find consolation in the play of their current goaltenders. Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak are currently ranked first and fourth, respectively, in the league in goaltender efficiency.